Horsham took another stride towards the Premier Division title with a narrow 1-0 victory over Newhaven on Saturday.
Captain Joe Shelley missed a penalty and then scored the only goal of the match on 16 minutes as the Hornets mathmatically ended their visitors’ faint outside title hopes.
Compiled with Eastbourne Town falling to another defeat, as former Hornet Scott Murfin netted in Pagham’s 3-1 victory to see Horsham go three points clear with a game in hand.
A solid defensive effort saw Horsham manage to shut out the division’s top scorer, Lee Robinson for a second time this season. Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola said: “We did well and I think we got the game plan about right.
“We were not at our best in terms of our performance, but in saying that if Biff (Joe Shelley) had scored the penlaty, we would have been 2-0 up at half-time and had far more confidence in our performance.
“As has been in a few times in the last month, we got really nervous in the last 20 minutes again given what is a stake.
“The back four and goalkeeper were brilliant and that’s what won us the game in many ways.
“In the last two or three games we have probably been a bit more defensive. The games have been tight and compact to make sure we absolutely come away with our target.
“They (the defence) have been great, but they have been great all season and when Ryan Storrie and Adam Hunt have stepped in they have been great as well.”
In a fast-paced start, Shelley headed over a Mark Knee cross and Kieron Pamment hit the side netting from a tight angle from Terry Dodd’s pass.
In the 11th minute, Dodd played a one-two with Darren Boswell and went down under Daniel Murray’s rash challenge, giving referee Darren Eaton little alternative but to point to the spot.
Murray’s blushes were spared by goalkeeper Jake Buss who got down well to save from Shelley’s penalty which came straight down the middle, and then denied Pamment’s follow-up from point-blank range.
Five minutes later, however, Shelley atoned for his miss with an impressive individual goal. He ran through the defence and hit a low shot into the bottom corner from the egde of the box.
At other end, Scott Darnell struck a first-time curling shot that went narrowly wide of the top corner. A dangerous-looking corner was then tipped over by James Shaw,
The home side felt they could have had a second penalty before the break as from Alex Duncan’s cross, Shelley appeared to be pushed in the box.
The second half saw few clear-cut chances, Boswell did have a good chance to double the lead, getting himself one-on-one with Buss, but putting just wide.
Shaw was then quick off his line to steal the ball away from Robinson, who was rushing in.
A Jordan Clark free-kick was deflected away for a corner, before another deflected cross went narrowly wide.
There was to be a late heart-in-mouth moment when Shelley’s miscue in the centre of the pitch allowed Newhaven to break through Robinson and with the ball crossed in, Ryan Knight’s header was cleared off the line by Ash Jones.
Horsham: Shaw, Duncan, Jones, Farmer, Knee, Boswell, Clark, Shelley, Keehan, Pamment, Dodd. Subs: Lewis, Storrie, Smith, Archibald, Chadwick.