Horsham 1-1 Walton & Hersham: Hornets earn a point in final home game

Tony Nwachukwu levelled for Horsham on the volley

Tony Nwachukwu levelled for Horsham on the volley

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Horsham’s final home game of the season ended in a 1-1 draw with Walton & Hersham, who guaranteed Ryman South survival with a point.

An evenly contested Ryman South match short on any real quality saw the Londoners take the lead through Andrew Mensah before Tony Nwachukwu levelled just after half-time, and despite both sides creating half chances thereafter it finished all square.

With player/manager Gary Charman sitting out the last of a two-game ban in the stands, Rob Frankland and Ian Varley were giving the orders from the home dugout, though it was the visitors who posed the early threat.

Hornets ‘keeper Mark Zawadski produced a good save with his legs to deny experienced attacker Tony Reed from close range on six minutes, and then Louis Glace-Palmer cut in from the left but hacked over.

The first Horsham chance arrived from a set piece on 25 minutes, Ashley Robinson with a great delivery from a free kick on the right which found the run of Jamie Cade, who glanced his near post header only just over the crossbar.

Walton & Hersham then took the lead with half an hour gone, right back Nathan Daly produced a quality cross from tight on the touchline and Andrew Mensah squeezed a header in at the far post.

Almost immediately after the hosts broke down the right and Nwachukwu rolled the ball across the area for Robinson to almost nonchalantly stroke a curling effort just wide of the top corner.

Horsham so nearly got back on level terms when Robinson’s fine inswinging cross picked out Cade, but unmarked six yards out he crashed his header off the middle of the crossbar with goalkeeper Dan Coles beaten all ends up.

After a poor start Horsham had improved as the first-half progressed, and with strong half-time words ringing in their ears they came out all guns blazing for the second half and got back on level terms within two minutes of the restart.

First Cade dribbled his way into the area but saw his shot saved by Coles. Just after though Jahmahl King met a Robinson corner at the back post, goalkeeper Coles could only punch straight into the air and the ball dropped to Nwachukwu, who lashed home an unstoppable volley to make it 1-1.

Horsham brought on talented Under-18 striker Jake Legrange in place of Ryan Marriott and a neat piece of skill from the youngster nearly put him in on goal. The teenager impressed in a 35-minute cameo upfront, linking well with Cade and he nearly snaked his way in on goal but was denied by a last-gasp defensive lunge.

Cade then had two half chances - taking on a shot early on the half volley and firing wide of the far post and then with a header which Coles comfortably dealt with.

Walton & Hersham remained a threat themselves and left back Andy Lomas picked out Sean Bradley through the middle and the substitute swept the ball only inches wide of the goal.

Robinson’s deliveries from set pieces continued to pose a threat, and from one corner Byron Napper saw a shot well saved and following up Cade was denied by a last-ditch defensive block.

Both sides fancied their chances of scoring a winner, and when Hornets stopper Zawadski could only punch a free kick half clear, Bradley saw his volley arrow through a crowd of bodies in the box and whistle past the far post.

Horsham did have the ball in the net for a second time in the 88th minutes but the referee adjudged that Cade had fouled goalkeeper Coles in holding him off before finding the back off the net.

Robinson crashed a half volley from 20 yards only just off target and that proved the final chance as it ended honours even, the point securing Walton & Hersham are mathematically safe from relegation.

Horsham (4-4-2): Zawadski; Marriott (Legrange 55), Hamilton, King, Woodford; Nwachukwu, Robinson, Harris, Morley; Napper, Cade.