Tony Nwachukwu marked his first Horsham start for more than three months with a goal as Simon Colbran’s depleted side showed immense character to win a rain soaked Boxing Day derby at Worthing.
Young forward Nwachukwu slid in the opener on 55 minutes and Matt Simpson added an inventive second, and despite Steve Metcalf’s late consolation it couldn’t stop Colbran celebrating all three points against his former club.
Horsham came into the clash missing a number of players, meaning long term absentees Wayne Clarke and Nwachukwu were thrown straight into the starting XI and only three substitutes were named on the bench.
As well as Colbran making his first return to Woodside Road since managing the Rebels, there were five former Worthing players in the Horsham starting XI.
Although the pitch was in surprisingly good condition the driving wind and rain made for poor playing conditions which both sides took time to adjust to.
Both had cancelled each other out without creating any real chances until the first half drew to a close.
When Horsham failed to clear their lines on the edge of the box on 32 minutes the ball was worked to Chris O’Flaherty inside the box on the left, but going for glory he fired wide from a tough angle.
Nwachukwu, despite being out since September looked lively just behind striker Scott Tipper, used his pace to so nearly get on the end of a ball over the top, home keeper JJ Bonasco-Zaragosa just winning the foot race to clear.
Eddie Koboah then showed great determination to win a ball on the right and picked out Nwachukwu who, perhaps understandably rusty swung at thin air.
The clearest chance of the half fell to the hosts just before the break, but O’Flaherty scuffed wide on the six yard box from Matt Daniel’s cutback.
The game almost burst into life straight from kick off when Clarke picked Daniel’s pockets and cut through the home defence like it wasn’t there but with only the keeper to beat he stroked the ball wide of the far post.
Rebels striker Jamie Brotherton, who spent a season at Horsham, had a shot blocked when he had options bursting in the box as the hosts enjoyed a good early spell.
But with the rain now battering down it was Horsham who went ahead on 55 minutes. Koboah nipped in to take advantage of a poor pass and from the right he crossed low for Nwachukwu to slam home from close range.
Brotherton should have replied immediately but he nodded Scott Kirkwood’s deep free kick wide from close range with the goal at his mercy and an O’Flaherty corner struck the top of the crossbar.
On 61 minutes Horsham made their Sussex rivals pay with their second goal, Tipper’s effort deflecting to the left of the box where Simpson picked it up and on the turn he sent an inventive chip over Banasco-Zaragoza and into the far corner for a 2-0 lead.
Horsham keeper Michael Hunter - who endured a tough time while playing at Worthing - then produced a fine fingertip save to keep out a Matt Hurley curler.
As the pitch turned into a swamp Worthing, along with the weather battered their visitors looking for a way back into the game.
But typified by skipper Gary Charman Horsham put bodies on the line and even though Steve Metcalf pulled one back in the 90th minute Horsham held on for a deserved three points.
Horsham: Hunter; Brockhurst, King, Simpson, Charman; Farmer, Harris, Koboah (Medlock 65), Clarke (Scott 76); Nwachukwu (Hutchings 73), Tipper.