Two goals in as many second-half minutes completed a quick-fire Chichester City comeback, as Horsham YMCA’s campaign ended in defeat on Saturday afternoon.
The loss saw the Lilywhites beat YM to fifth spot in the final league standings, with Peter Buckland’s side eventually finishing seventh, two places lower than last season, despite securing a higher points tally.
After a goalless first half, YM midfielder Anthony Hibbert drilled home a Dave Brown corner from six yards to put the hosts in front midway through the second period.
But the visitors could not have responded better, as just six minutes later they had turned the game on its head.
Prolific City striker Jimmy Wild headed home a Dan Watts cross, before YM’s defence switched off, allowing Dan Hegarty to fire under goalkeeper Mark Fox from a tight angle to make it 2-1 just 60 seconds later.
Boss Buckland commented: “If ever a game summed up our season that was it. They are the form team in the league who have been winning game after game. Not only did we match them, we bettered them and it’s one of the rare occasions where you can say the better team lost.
“We were in command of the second half I felt. As good as they were, I couldn’t see them scoring, but within the space of a two minute window they had scored twice.
“Whether or not there was a head injury for their winner, our players were naive. Dan Evans went down injured but the rest of the team stopped. Their players didn’t stop and they went on and put the ball in the net.
“The referee didn’t deem it to be a head injury so that was that. To concede two goals within a minute of each other like that was crazy.
“We had the far greater amount of goal scoring opportunities and I thought we played really well. I said to the players not to be too down.
“I know we didn’t get anything out of the game, but if we had played like that for the whole season, we would have probably finished a lot higher than we have.
“It’s all over now. Every single team will start next season as top of the league and we’ll see just how close we can stay to that. We need to add strength in depth. It’s as simple as that.
“It was another classic example where we were 1-0 up and I could have closed the game out if I’d had some options on the bench. The only fit player I had was Kevin Budge and he is a centre forward.
“There will be six new faces next season, in addition to the squad that we’ve got, and possibly an under-21 pool to call upon as well.
“We’re going to start pre-season training in mid-June and hit the ground running in August. As I said in today’s match programme, I’m just glad that this campaign is out of the way now. I’m really excited about next year.”
Horsham YMCA: Fox, D.Sullivan, Burgess, Dugdale, Evans, Donaldson, Hibbert, Wright, Brown, Johnson, Schaaf. Unused: Budge, Buchanan, Gathern, Gedling.
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