Loxwood 2, Horsham 2: Thrilling derby sees Magpies mount second-half fightback

DM15111829a.jpg Football - Horsham v Epsom and Ewell. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150609-220514008
DM15111829a.jpg Football - Horsham v Epsom and Ewell. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150609-220514008

Horsham missed out on the chance to reclaim top spot in the Premier Division as they were pegged back by a second-half Loxwood fightback on Tuesday night.

In a thrilling derby at Plaistow Road, the Hornets led 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Mark Knee and Darren Boswell.

But the hosts came flying out the blocks in the second half and pulled a goal back through Ollie Moore after just three minute, before Charlie Pitcher nodded home an equaliser.

They were in between a number of controversial decisions from referee Carl Smith and his assistants with Loxwood being turned down a late penalty, before Horsham had an effort from Harry Smith that crossed the line not given.

Horsham took the lead after just three minutes as Darren Boswell made yards on the left and pulled back for Knee, whose deep left-footed cross somehow found its way into the net.

Magpies stopper Harrison Hilfiker thought the ball was sailing wide and simply watched it fly into the back of the net.

Evan Archibald then had two smart lobbed finishes ruled out for offside in as many minutes, the first from a neat lofted Knee ball and the second, which looked well onside, from an Adam Hunt pass.

Loxwood struggled to find any sort of rhythm and could have few complaints when they fell further behind on 19 minutes as a long Gareth Williams clearance put Boswell away on the left wing.

He raced into the box and dragged the ball back, selling two defenders, before smashing home for a lovely-looking goal.

Pitcher tried an ambitious volley from range after the ball was headed back to him, while Loxwood’s best move of the half came as Mark Cave skipped past Ash Jones and slid in Cecil Jee, but his goalbound shot was blocked.

The Magpies however, came flying out the block in the second half and pulled a goal back on 48 minutes from a Pitcher free-kick.

His ball across the area saw Williams attempt a punch, but not connect with the ball and Moore swept home his fifth goal in five games.

Just before the hour mark came the first real controversial decision of the evening as Jee, who had already been booked in the first half, put in a flying lunge and caught Hunt and the ball.

It was a clear booking for a dangerous challenge, but despite this the referee opted for a long chat with the winger and he was immediately subbed off for Sam Beard.

Boswell then cut in from his flank and stuck straight at Hilfiker, who blocked the shot and Archibald’s follow-up was again blocked by the goalkeeper and a covering defender.

The equaliser came on 66 minutes as Michael Wood put in a good challenge to win a corner and Williams again fumbled the set-piece, which Eddie French hooked goalwards for Pitcher to nod in at the back post.

Kieron Pamment’s ball across the Loxwood box caused a moment of panic as it came back off a defender and struck Hilfiker, but Harry Smith couldn’t capitalise on the loose ball.

Pamment then fired straight at Hilfiker after a free-kick, while straight down the other end, Williams made a diving one-handed save to deny Pitcher.

With five minutes left both teams were threatening pinching a winner and Loxwood were turned down a spot kick as Pitcher went down under pressure from Jones, who clearly didn’t touch the ball, but the referee gave a corner.

With two minutes left, it was Horsham’s time to feel aggrieved as Archibald cut back to Smith whose effort crashed in off the underside of the bar - but despite initial flagging by the linesman, nothing was given.

It seemed as case of evening things up from the match official after failing to send off Jee, which suggests why Hunt got away with a lunging two-footed tackle at the death, and Beard was only booked for an equally robust challenge in five minutes of added time.

Loxwood: Hilfiker, Courtney (Bachelor 80), French, Scally, Holvey, Wood (Summerfield 66), Cave, Simpson, Jee (Beard 58), Moore, Pitcher. Unused subs: Smith, Haulkham.

Horsham: Williams, Duncan, Jones, Farmer, Knee, Pamment, Shelley, Hunt, Lewis (Rowe-Hurst 77), Boswell (Smith 63), Archibald. Unused subs: Storrie, Atkinson, Burfiend.