Goals either side of half-time helped Horsham YMCA record their first league win in over a month, as they beat fourth bottom Wick & Barnham United on Saturday.
Despite a lacklustre display, Phil Johnson’s seventh goal in five games three minutes into added time at the end of the first half, and Nick Sullivan’s tap in midway through the second period was enough to secure all three points.
YM manager Peter Buckland said: “We just ground it out. It wasn’t a classic by any means. I said to the players before the game that their (Wick & Barnham’s) league position is false in my opinion. They really work hard and press for the whole game and you’ve got to match that.
“Because of personnel, we had to go 4-3-3, which didn’t really suit the type of game, but I never really had much option, because yet again we had players out.
“I thought that we could press them enough to keep the ball in the last third for most of the game with three forwards, but we didn’t quite grasp it. There were some big names today that played average.” .
A cross from YM captain Ashley Dugdale was headed inches wide of his own post by defender Danny Towers midway through the half, before a Johnson header was blocked on the line and Anthony Hibbert nodded effort went over the upright.
Tom Groom went closest for the visitors when his glancing header flew just wide, after which the best chance of the half fell to YM’s Luke Gedling, who drilled high over the bar.
Groom was stretchered off with a knee injury just before the break, and in added time, Sullivan flicked on for Johnson, and he took the ball in his stride before coolly finishing
In the second half, Wick striker Ben Gray’s effort was well blocked by defender Matt Crane, whilst Johnson was denied by stopper Billy Nash.
Nick Sullivan was also thwarted by Nash, before the dangerous Gray cut in from the right and curled against the YM crossbar shortly after.
Dan Evans’ floated ball in behind Wick full-back Kieron Playle-Howard was latched onto by Johnson and the forward unselfishly squared for Sullivan who slotted home unmarked from six yards.
YM ‘keeper Mark Fox was alert to beat Gray to a threatening through ball, and to also then keep out substitute Kerry Hardwell’s long-range effort.
YM boss Buckland concluded: “It wasn’t a pretty game to watch. We scored a couple of decent goals, but we dilly-dallied around too much in the middle of the park. There’s nothing wrong with getting the ball in behind their back four early and we did it right at the death in the first half and then exactly the same for the second goal.
“The second half was better. We had a lot of possession, but fair play to Wick, they defended really well and looked to catch us on the break. I don’t think that the result was ever in doubt, but at 1-0 I was mightily relieved when the second goal went in. We ground it out and I’m glad for the three points.
“At last, we should be back to a full strength squad for next week, when we go down to Littlehampton. That will be a really tough, physical game, on what is often a difficult surface. We’ll have to show a lot more commitment than we showed today.”
Horsham YMCA: Fox, D.Sullivan, Burgess, Crane, Evans, Dugdale, Hibbert, Gedling, Johnson (Wright 69), Donaldson, N.Sullivan. Unused subs: Gathern.
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