Cricket manager Ed Clark was full of praise for Horsham trio Tom Haines, Craig Gallagher, and Tom Clark as the Lions pulled off a superb nine-wicket home win over then-Premier Division leaders Brighton & Hove on Saturday.
The visitors, electing to bat, posted 224-8 off 58 overs, with Tim Jarvis (70) topscoring. Harnoop Kalsi (4-71) was the star man with the ball for Horsham.
In reply the Lions, who were missing skipper Michael Thornely and the talismanic Nick Oxley, cantered home as Haines (92*), Gallagher (74*), and Clark (56*) smashed 229-1 in 49.2 overs to secure Horsham’s first win in two.
Victory saw Horsham rocket up the table, from second-from-bottom to fifth, and also meant Brighton were knocked off top-spot following Roffey’s win at Cuckfield.
Ed Clark said: “Brighton were top and playing well and we’d struggled for consistency. But when you’ve got guys of the quality of Tom Haines and Craig Gallagher and people like that in your side you can always be competitive especially when chasing scores.
“All the bowlers bowled really well. When the spinners came on they restricted the run-rate and bowled very tight lines.
“The wicket of Matt Machan was a big turning point. He’s got the ability to make big scores quickly and on a hot day with a fast outfield it was a massive wicket.
“The Toms and Craig were fantastic. Given it was a hot day and they’d fielded for 58 overs, to go straight back out there and perform was amazing.
“Craig kept on going and churning the runs out. Tom Haines played a really mature innings, as you’d expect from a young pro, and Tom Clark came in and finished it nicely.
“All three of them played really well. They all played a proper innings and it was a very well constructed run-chase.”
The Lions had early success with the ball as Jonny Whiting (1-21) had Hugo Gillespie (four) walking back to the pavilion at 14-1.
The usually free-scoring Machan (39) saw his wicket fall to the effective Kalsi at 99-3 before Kalsi then removed Steven Crosby (four) six-runs later.
Horsham’s bowlers were dangerous throughout, taking Brighton wickets at regular intervals and preventing the visiting batsmen from going on to score big totals.
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Despite near-flawless bowling from the Lions, Jarvis was still proving to be a thorn in the side.
His 70 helped Brighton near 200 before Mark Haines (2-47) popped up to prevent the away batsman from reaching his hundred.
Quick-hitting from Felix Sheppard (18* off 20 balls) and Stephen Marsh (20* off 17 balls) helped Brighton past the double-hundred mark before the innings came to a close.
Horsham struggled to chase down a similar total against East Grinstead last week, but the Lions top-order produced a destructive reply to seal what ended up being an easy win.
Opening pair Haines and Gallagher put on a 150-run partnership to set the Lions’ inning up nicely.
Gallagher, whose 74 came off 85 balls included six fours and two maximums, was the only Horsham batsman to fall.
New man in Clark, and Haines then combined to add 79 at two to power the Lions to a convincing victory.
Haines’ struck 13 fours during his knock of 92 not out off 152 balls, while Clark bludgeoned six fours and three sixes as he racked up 56 not out in 59 deliveries.
Horsham travel to Eastbourne on Saturday and the Lions will be hoping they can produce a repeat of their nine-wicket win over the coastal club on the opening day of the season.
Clark added: “Eastbourne are another tough side. I expect they will have a strong side out.
“They’ll have a lot of their public schoolboys back. They’ve got a strong contingent of Sussex at an under-17 sort of age.
“We should have a strong side with a couple of players in from last week. Our captain (Thornely) and Nick Oxley are back around so, although we’re expecting a tough game, we’ll be going for the win.”