Horsham edged toward securing Ryman League football for next season by earning an important 1-0 win against Herne Bay.
A 17th minute deflected own goal by Connor Saunders from Bruno Pacheco’s drive towards the goalmouth finally ended Hornets’ three-match goal drought and was enough to clinch three points.
It was a game of two halves with the first 45 minutes being largely Horsham’s and the second belonging mainly Herne Bay’s with a couple of Horsham chances at the start and end.
Horsham’s ability to seal the victory against their fellow midtable rivals was hindered by them reduced to 10 men just after the break.
Byron Napper was dismissed for his second bookable offence a few minutes after the restart for dissent having been previously yellow-carded in the first half for kicking the ball away.
Horsham looked much improved from Tuesday night’s dismal 2-0 defeat at home to Hythe Town when they did not look like threatening to make an impact on the scoresheet.
Manager Gary Charman made three changes to the team with himself, Tony Nwachukwu and Jamie Cade restored to the starting line-up in place of Billy Joe King who was unavailable due to illness in the family, Scott Harris who was on the bench and Junior Kaffo who was at a wedding,
They looked sharper and more attack-minded with Nwachukwu adding speed and skill on the right wing and Cade a scoring threat upfront with the powerful and hard working Ashley Robinson.
Napper shot wide with their first chance after Cade made a clever turn in the penalty box.
Horsham then took the lead from an attack begun by Robinson whose initial shot was saved by keeper Jack Delo and fell to Pacheco whose drive was deflected into his own goal by Herne Bay’s Saunders.
Morley then set-up Robinson for another attempt on goal which he scuffed wide.
Ryan Woodford headed against the crossbar before in another quality move, Charman played a good pass up the left to Robinson who crossed toward Cade only for Delo to intercept before Cade could pull the trigger.
The second half was much quieter for Horsham, who were not helped when Napper was sent-off for his second bookable offence which left most Horsham fans scratching their heads in disbelief at referee Dave Sheldrake.
A corner by Nwachukwu found Jahmahl King in the area but his header flew tamely over the bar.
Herne Bay took advantage of Horsham being depleted in numbers by pressing forward and created five scoring chances in 15 minutes in search of an equaliser.
A long throw into the area by Saunders was lifted by Dean Grant over the bar.
Bolstered by Charman’s return, Hornets’ defence held firm to keep clean sheet with Woodford doing well to clear Stuart King’s short-range shot off the line.
Bay then hit the crossbar twice when substitute James Turner fired a shot and the ball fell to Stuart King who headed over the bar.
In the final minute Nwachukwu raced up the wing and supplied Cade with a ball in the box but Delo was too alert and cleared the danger as Horsham had to settle for the 1-0 win.
Horsham: Zawadski, Woodford, Hamilton, Napper, J King, Charman, Nwachukwu, Morley, Robinson (Marriott 79), Cade, Pacheco (Harris 54)
Unused subs: Legrange, Fobi-Edusei, Blaney