Horsham gained some self respect after nearly making a contest of a 4-3 defeat at the hands of a team which has already secured a place in the play-offs, Hythe.
After a disastrous first half in which they went 3-0 down, they managed to score three goals in the second half and conceded one.
However it was all too late to affect the outcome of the game as Hornets’ second and third goals came in the 89th and 94th minutes which left only seconds of play when they pulled back to 4-3.
There were some positives which came out of the game, notably Horsham’s ability to fight back when during much of the last two seasons they have simply given in and allowed a thrashing without any sign of threatening anything themselves.
Thankfully for the Gorings Mead faithful, those times are past as three wins from the last five games has hoisted them clear of relegation danger.
Horsham’s second half goals were scored by Charlie Farmer just five minutes after the restart, 17-year-old youth team player Harry Smith with a fine individual effort and finally by Ryan Marriott.
However the first half did not make great watching for Hornets fans as Hythe were allowed to get through the Horsham defences at will and were leading 3-0 after only 21 minutes.
Ronnie Dolan signalled the visitors’ intentions after only 19 seconds when he forced a low save from keeper Michael Hunter.
Hythe then took the lead in the ninth minute when the league’s topscorer Dave Cook headed in Dolan’s cross for his 26th goal of the season.
Hythe went 2-0 up just three minutes later when the Hornets’ defence failed to shut down Jake Hobbs, who beat the offside trap to receive a throughball, rounded Hunter and slotted in.
In a rare Horsham attack, Ryan Waterman fired wide from outside the box.
The onslaught continued as Michael Yianni put away Hythe’s third goal on the rebound from another throughball.
Hunter kept the scoreline down with a useful save to deny Brendan Cass, then at the other end, Tony Nwachukwu put Billy Dunn through for a chance which opposing keeper Dan Eason got down low to keep out.
No doubt after a pretty serious teamtalk, Horsham were fastest out of the blocks at the start of the second half as Karl Akehurst sent a raking ball to Farmer to finish off and at least give the fans some faint hope of a comeback.
Yianni responded for Hythe with a shot across goal which went over the bar, then in the 57th minute they went 4-1 up when a throughball from Cook found Cass who placed his shot well just inside the left post.
The visitors missed the chance for a fifth goal when Jamie Collado was denied by Hunter then Hobbs sent his follow-up shot wide.
Manager Simon Colbran brought on three substitutes and two of them scored as firstly Smith dribbled past a defender and blasted in with his left foot, then Ryan Marriott headed home Dunn’s cross.
In between the goals the skilfull Billy Dunn had a shot deflected high into the arms of Eason.
The scoreline read 4-3 and Hornets fans who had been woken up by their late fightback could not believe what they had seen and there were shouts of ‘there is still time!’
Sadly the final whistle blew moments later and it was all over. The scoreline had a deceiving look to it to suggest it was a close game, which it wasn’t, but at least confidence was maintained that Horsham can at least come back from behind against strong opposition.
Horsham (4-4-2): Hunter, Brockhurst, King, Simpson, Farmer, Akehurst, Nwachukwu (Smith 66), Waterman, Dunn, McCreadie (Freeman 66), Koboah (Marriott 83).
Unused subs: Charman, Harris
County Times Man of the Match: Harry Smith