Horsham produced a battling performance on their first game back from an enforced winter break to win 1-0 away at Walton & Hersham.
Junior Kaffo’s first-half header proved the decisive goal in what was largely a poor affair, though that was hardly a surprise given it was the Hornets first game for nearly a month.
It was however an excellent defensive display from the visitors which meant the hosts hardly had a sniff all game as Horsham won their third straight Ryman South match on the spin.
Gary Charman’s side had seen their last six matches postponed because of the abject weather, and that after two straight home wins over Guernsey and Crawley Down.
In bright and sunny conditions at Walton however no pitch inspection was necessary with the surface at The Sports Ground in surprisingly good condition.
It was the host who threatened first when Samad Kazi burst through on the left, cut inside but fired over the bar, and the midfielder then shot straight at Hornets ‘keeper Michael Hunter.
The visitors’ first threatening moment saw winger Tony Nwachukwu beat his man on the right and deliver a wicked low ball right across the goal which neither striker Kaffo or two defenders managed to make connect with.
The Hornets were building pressure; Byron Napper chested down and volleyed over, and Billy Dunn then won a free kick just outside the box on the left and, striking it himself, his shot deflected off the top of the wall and only just over the crossbar.
Dunn was then instrumental as Horsham took a 36th minute lead. Nwachukwu won the ball in midfield and fed Ross Morley, whose threaded ball through was cut out by a Swans defender. Dunn, though closed down his clearance and from near the corner flag sent in an inch-perfect cross which found Kaffo, who had peeled off the back of his marker and nodded home from close range.
Billy Joe King half volleyed not far over right at the end of half time.
The second half produced little action until the final ten minutes - other then Napper volleying wide from range - as both sides tried to pass it around and mostly cancelled each other out.
With ten minutes remaining Walton & Hersham came close to levelling when Dan Dean’s header from a free kick was nodded off the line by substitute Tom Graves standing guard on the post,
Almost straight down the other end Nwachukwu got the ball back from taking a corner and his deep cross found Dunn, who slipped it to Morley and fro just inside the box his curling effort only just missed the far top corner.
Right at the death the hosts had Gregg Andrew sent off for an ugly over-the-top tackle on Scott Harris which saw him handed a second yellow card when it could easily have earned him a straight red.
The win lifted Horsham up three places to 16th in the Ryman South table as their recent revival under new manager Gary Charman continued on its upward curve.
The only blot on Horsham’s day was an injury to defender Glen Woodburn which saw him replaced by Tom Graves early in the second half.
Horsham (4-3-3): Hunter; Hamilton, B King, J King, G Woodburn (Graves 52); Harris, Napper, Morley; Nwachukwu, Dunn, Kaffo (Cade 75).
Unused: Fobi-Edusei, Charman, Thorp.