After two straight defeats, Horsham YMCA returned to winning ways with a comfortable 6-3 thumping of Shoreham in Division 1 action at Gorings Mead on Saturday.
Three goals in as many first-half minutes ended the game as a contest, as Liam Hunter caressed home the opener, before Dave Brown netted a quick-fire double to make it 3-0 before the quarter-hour mark.
The visitors, who sit fifth from bottom, pulled a goal back through defender Rob Allan midway through the half, only for YM’s top goalscorer Nick Sullivan to restore his side’s three-goal advantage in added time at the end of the first period.
YM’s lead was quickly extended after the break, with Hunter notching his second of the afternoon shortly after the restart and Brown then completing his hat-trick five minutes later.
To their credit, a young Musselmen outfit rallied, and with the help of some poor YM defending, made it 6-2 thanks to striker Alex Laing’s lobbed effort with half an hour to play.
The visitors’ efforts were soured somewhat when front man Kai Bichard was inevitably sent off for a second bookable offence with ten minutes left, before substitute Simon Garrivier netted a further consolation in added time.
YM manager Peter Buckland commented: “It’s back to winning ways, but I wasn’t totally happy with the performance. I don’t want to sound like an old misery guts, but the object of the exercise overall was to get the three points and we did that, and in the main we did it comfortably, but we have now got to address the negatives in the game.
“We scored six goals, but we conceded three stupid goals and that’s what we need to focus on. We went from ten minute spells of brilliance during the game to ten minute spells of rubbish.”
The hosts’ superiority was evident from the outset and the result was all but secured for YM after just ten minutes.
The returning Sullivan was released down the left and cleverly cut the ball back for Hunter, who coolly side footed home to open the scoring after just seven minutes.
The midfielder then turned provider sixty seconds later, as his excellent cross field pass spread the play to Brown on the YM left and after beating his man, he rifled into the roof of the net from just inside the box.
And three minutes later it was 3-0, as Sullivan again found space in the channel before this time squaring for Brown who slid in under pressure and poked home from close range.
Anthony Hibbert could have added a fourth, but his glancing header from a whipped Hunter free kick cannoned back off the crossbar, after which the visitors opened their account for the afternoon at the opposite end.
A contentiously awarded free kick was swung into the box by Shoreham’s George Rudwick and unmarked centre back Allan was on hand to head the ball into the far corner to reduce the deficit.
Mussels’ striker Bichard chose to cross when perhaps better placed to shoot shortly after and Hibbert watched a deflected effort ricochet just the wrong side of the upright for YM, before Sullivan netted his thirteenth goal of the season with a deft finish from a Brown cross in added time.
The home side began the second half in much the same way they had started the first, with goals arriving quickly after the restart.
Yet more excellent work from striker Sullivan saw him easily skip past his man, before teeing up Hunter, who finished first time from close range. And five minutes later Brown completed his hatrick when a clipped Dean Carden ball into the box fell kindly for the wide man and he fired past the goalkeeper with his unfavoured right foot.
YM’s defensive frailties were noticeable once again though, as midway through the half Shoreham striker Laing found himself in space and lobbed onrushing YM goalkeeper Mark Fox, who re-signed for the club from East Grinstead Town this week, to make it 6-2.
Repeat Musselmen offender Bichard was then shown a foreseeable second yellow card for a needless foul on YM defender Adam O’Carroll to earn himself an early exit, and he was then joined by a Shoreham coach for remonstrating with the assistant referee shortly after.
The game became fragmented as it reached its climax. A Shoreham cross deflected off of YM substitute Alex Gathern and then against the post, before Garrivier netted the visitors’ third when he reacted quickest to a parried Laing free kick to tap home from close range with the last kick of the game.
Despite failing to alter their seventh placed position in the league table, the win puts YM back on track in Division 1 and they can now look forward to a third round Sussex Senior Cup tie with Ryman Premier League side Lewes at Gorings Mead on Tuesday evening.
Buckland concluded:”It’s nice to be able to go into Tuesday night’s game a bit relaxed, with a win under our belt and nothing to lose against Lewes. It would be wonderful if we could repeat the heroics of last year, but we should just enjoy it.”
Horsham YMCA: Fox, Carden, Dugdale (Gathern 79), O’Carroll, Evans, Gedling, Hunter, D. Brown, Curtis (J.Brown 63), Hibbert (D.Sullivan 71), N.Sullivan. Unused subs: Gault.