Horsham breathed new life into their survival bid with a precious away victory at Hastings United this afternoon.
The Hornets scored a goal in either half to end a run of nine successive Ryman League South Division defeats with a deserved 2-0 win away to their fellow strugglers Hastings.
Horsham remain bottom of the table, but they are now only four points from safety.
In the context of the relegation battle it was a huge win for Anthony Storey and Cliff Cant’s side as they are now just three points behind second-bottom Redhill and four from climbing out of the relegation places - with East Grinstead, Ramsgate and most-importantly Hastings, above them on 37 points.
United had the game’s first chance in the seventh minute when Luke Turner met Tyrell Richardson-Brown’s driven low cross from the right, but directed his shot wide of Horsham goalkeeper Gareth Williams in what turned out to be a rare attempt on target.
Home stopper Josh Pelling tipped over a shot from the onrushing Tom Howard-Bold a minute later, before Horsham opened the scoring in the 20th minute.
Tony Nwachukwu outpaced Richard Rose to get on the end of a ball over the top and slotted past Pelling for the Hornets’ first goal in four outings.
There was little action of note during the remainder of the first half. Turner chipped a free kick tamely over the crossbar and Liam Foster couldn’t direct an effort on target, while Howard-Bold’s deflected shot at the other end went just wide of the far post.
Horsham looked comfortable for much of the second half as they picked up their first win in 10 games against a Hastings side which is now winless in nine.
United full-back Steve Brinkhurst fired off target from distance and Ade Olorunda headed wide from a cross by brother Tim, while at the other end, a corner from former United midfielder Tom Vickers was missed at the near post and almost crept in at the far.
Howard-Bold fired over from outside the box at another Vickers corner, while Williams made easy saves from Sean Ray and Ade Olorunda prior to Horsham doubling their advantage in the 82nd minute.
Gregg Berry had only been on the field a matter of seconds when he squared from near the byline in the right-hand side of the box and Bailo Camara tapped home against his former club.
Matt Maclean headed wide of the far post from a cross by fellow United substitute Matt Caley, who was making his debut, while Nwachukwu’s cross-come-shot from wide on the right was fisted out by Pelling, who then kept out Trevor McCreadie’s shot-on-the-turn at his near post.
A thoroughly miserable afternoon for United was topped off in the last of five minutes of added time when Ade Olorunda was shown a straight red card for serious foul play as several players from both sides converged on the ball.
Horsham: Williams, Hope, Obersteller, Gilbert, Byrne, Welch, Howard-Bold, Vickers (Berry 82), McCreadie, Nwachukwu, Camara. Subs not used: Izokun, Branford, Storey, Felipe Lira. Attendance: 368.
Ryman League South Division bottom five (played-points): 20 Hastings United 40-37, 21 Ramsgate 39-37, 22 East Grinstead Town 39-37, 23 Redhill 39-36, 24 Horsham 40-33.