Promotion hopefuls Horsham YMCA slipped to 2-1 defeat at home to Eastbourne United on Saturday, and boss Peter Buckland believes the ‘smash and grab’ outcome would have been different had they had a fit striker.
After an even first 45 minutes of few chances, YM dominated proceedings for much of the second half but failed to capitalise on numerous chances.
They were made to pay on the 68th minute when YM keeper Aaron Jeal made a mess of Scott Taylor’s looping shot, palming the ball into the back of his own net.
YM made a quick response, scoring a deserved equaliser in the 72nd minute, through midfielder Liam Humphreys.
As YM pushed for a winner, they left themselves exposed at the back, and Lucas Mann grabbed the winner against the run of play, leaving Buckland perplexed.
He said: “Sometimes the Gods just conspire against you. I might have known it wasn’t going to be our day. We were without three prolific strikers in our club, Phil Johnson, Sam Schaaf and Kieron Pamment.
“We had to play without a recognised striker on the pitch, with Mark Cave at centre forward, and he’s a midfielder.
“It (the result) was really hard to accept, we were as good as we’ve played all season in the second half and completely dominated.
“It’s one of those things that you’ve got to take on the chin. I try not to let football bother me and take it home, but I did this weekend.
“I can honestly say, hand on heart, if we had two, or even one, of our strikers on the pitch we would have won the game. It was a real smash and grab for Eastbourne.”
Despite the defeat, Buckland insists his confidence and aims for the season have not been affected.
He added: “We can still win the league, 100 per cent. I have not deterred from that fact at all. We’ll get together as a group, we’ll be fine,it’s still so early doors. When I look at the table, everybody is beating everybody.
“I’m not bothered about the table at the moment. If we win our two games in hand (against Arundel and Worthing), we’ll be in the mix straight away.
“It changes so quickly at this time of the season. I’ve got no qualms about it at all. I’ve stated before my sole intention is promotion this year.”
Buckland was pleased with the overall performance of the team despite the result, and was particularly impressed with Luke Gedling and goal-scorer Humphreys.
He said: “It was a good all round performance. Liam Humphreys came on and scored the equaliser, and he was very impressive, despite only seeing 25/30 minutes of the game.
“If I had to say a man of the match, it would be Luke Gedling, as he’s always had the consistency.”
Horsham YMCA: Jeal, Carden, Evans, Gilbert (capt), Cooke, Gedling, Shelley, Curtis (Frankland 70), Gill (Humphreys 66), Cave (Godfrey 86), Brown. Unused: Harding.