A depleted Horsham side comfortably accounted for Eastbourne on Saturday at the same time as showing the strength in-depth of the men’s section of the club.
Down to 12 men early in the second half, the young guns in the team stepped up and showed their versatility, fitness and ability to compete at senior level.
Two of Horsham’s goals came from products of Horsham’s academy – Collyer’s student Pete Neave showed coolness and a great sense of timing on the stoke of half-time to cancel out Eastbourne’s early goal.
In the second half, 19-year-old Joe Humphreys showed a cheeky coolness to lift the ball past an Eastbourne keeper who was their man of the match.
In between, John Burroughs continued his fine scoring run to take his tally to six in the last three games.
Had the umpire not inexplicably blown for a short corner, when Horsham had a clear advantage, 16-year-old Noah Chin would have added to his tally after finding the back of the net with a signature strike from the penalty spot.
For all that the goals were well taken, Horsham showed a great defensive spirit anchored by the experimental pairing of Andy McIlwraith and Dom Cohen at the back, and the tenacity of Mark Ansell in central midfield alongside Rob Turnbull.
Both McIlwraith and Turnbull have seamlessly moved up from the second team and Horsham now have the best defensive record in the league.
Next week they welcome Marlow to Broadbridge Heath and manager Al Campbell is confident of putting out a strong squad.
“We’ll still be missing a couple of starting players, but we’ll be almost back to full strength,” he said.
“Quite frankly the guys who have stepped up will give us selection problems – it’s a great challenge to have.”