A hard-working ten-man Horsham had nothing to show for their efforts as Faversham pinched a 2-1 win to go top of the Ryman League South Division tonight.
The gulf in the table that separated the two teams was barely noticeable in the first half and majority of the second, but the visitors pinched all three points to condemn Hornets to bottom place at Christmas.
The game hinged on a 70th-minute red card to Ryan Woodford after a soft penalty decision went against him with the scores level at 1-1.
Gareth Williams superbly saved Wayne Wilson’s spot-kick, but Jamie Maxted powered home what turned out to be the winner from the resulting corner.
Hornets took a deserved early lead through Harry Smith and controlled much of the first half, but found themselves pegged back by Dean Grant’s leveller at half-time.
The home side made two changes from the team that started against Walton & Hersham as Tom Frankland and Byron Napper came into the side for Lewis Hamilton and Jamie Ampleford.
Horsham looked in control from the off and got the perfect start on five minutes as Frankland’s long throw from the right flew across the goalmouth and Smith’s sweetly-struck half volley at the far post found the bottom corner.
Williams preserved the lead on ten minutes as he pushed away Jack Harris’ effort after some sustained pressure in the Horsham area, but the resulting corner was only half cleared and Harris’ ball allowed Dean Grant to turn and sweep home at the far post.
Hornets were a lick of paint away from retaking the lead on 18 minutes a great work by Nwachukwu on the byline saw him pick out the arriving Ross Morley and his fierce 18-yard drive was tipped onto the inside of the post by Simon Overland.
At the other end, an unmarked Jamie Maxted should have done better than put his free header at the back post over the bar on 27 minutes.
Smith twice got the better of Aidan Sherlock in the opening exchanges of the second half on the left wing and drove forwards, but had little options to pick out in the box.
At the other end, Billy-Joe King came to the Hornets’ rescue on 53 minutes as he hooked a goal-bound effort off the line, before Dave Botterill follow up struck Storey, with the visitor’s shouts for a penalty going unanswered.
Horsham had a penalty appeal of their own waved away on 61 minutes as a trademark Nwachukwu run on the right saw him put through Morley and his low delivery appeared to strike an arm of a Faversham centre-back.
A crazy couple of minutes ensued after Woodford was sent off for a soft challenge on Maxted in the box after a good passing move had put him through.
Referee Matthew Laker pointed straight to the spot and brandished a straight red card to Woodford as the last man, but Williams brilliantly saved Wilson’s spot kick.
The home fans’ jubilation, however, was sort lived as Maxted powered home from the resulting spot kick.
Williams then excelled himself in the next few minutes by tipping a Grant drive from 20 yards onto the post, before a point-blank save from a Maxted header.
On 86 minutes, a fine Faversham move resulted in Grant trying to flick over Williams, but Tom Gilbert raced back to clear his goalbound attempt.
Man of the match Williams got a chance at the other end as he went up for a corner in the seventh minute of injury-time, but it was hooked away as the full-time whistle sounded.
Horsham: Williams, Frankland (Page 73), Woodford, Gilbert, King, Nwachukwu, Storey, Napper, Smith, Morley, Miller (Ampleford 65). Unused subs: Charman, Hawthorne, Blaney.
Faversham: Overland, Sherlock, Brown, Bourne, Maxted, Robertson (Monger 90), Wilson, Botterill, Stanford (French 90), Harris (Oliver 90), Grant. Unused subs: Scarbourough, Bewick.