Horsham were left cursing the presence of an umpire assessor as they were on the end of a controversial decision in their home defeat to Oxford Hawks.
Having fought back three times, the moment Freddie Campbell forced home his hat-trick to make the score 4-3 just 10 minutes from time, Horsham were fully justified in thinking they had done enough to win the game.
The umpire blew and signalled for a goal then, reportedly, over-turned his decision and awarded a penalty flick.
Under pressure, Horsham’s top scorer Ellis Woolley put his attempt on the keeper’s glove, with Hawks breaking and scoring.
The final goal was irrelevant, but it did seal the victory for the visitors, much to the frustration of the Horsham camp.
Manager Al Campbell felt the team lost out because an umpires assessor was present.
He said: “After the game the umpire apologised, shrugged his shoulders, and admitted he had made a mistake – but it was a game changer.
“At 4-3 we could have shut up shop and hoped for at least a point if not all three. We saw this last year – the presence of an assessor puts umpires under pressure and they don’t get a chance to perform at their best.”
As in the previous game, Horsham’s defence looked a bit flat-footed and were caught out five minutes in by a long reverse stick cross which should have been cut out, but resulted in a tap in or the visitors.
Horsham regrouped and a long clearance kick from skipper Andy Isaacs found Cerdic Atkinson who linked with Sam MacDonald who crossed to John Burroughs who scored cleverly to make it 1-1 at half-time.
Hawks opened the scoring in the second half before Campbell was on hand to finish when a Woolley short corner that rebounded off the goalkeeper’s pads.
With a sense of déjà vu the same sequence happened all over again.
With the visitors down to 10 men, the home side had finally gained the ascendancy and Horsham thought it was all over - before umpire-gate took away all the momentum.
A quarter of the way through the season it’s turning into a tight division with only two points separating second and ninth place.
This Saturday, Horsham visit London Edwardians whom they played twice last season, with each team winning their respected away fixture. The hunt for points continues.
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