Horsham were dumped out of the RUR Cup by division-lower Haywards Heath Town on Tuesday night as they were haunted by an ex-Hornet and a stunning strike in extra-time.
With the scores level at 1-1 after 90 minutes as Freddie Barker had equalised after Evan Archibald’s opening goal, ex-Horsham forward Max Miller tapped home for Heath in the first period of extra-time, before Carl Dunk soared in a 40-yard screamer late on.
This made it 13 wins on the trot for Shaun Saunders’ team and was the first time Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola had lost to the former Peacehaven boss.
The Horsham management were left frustrated at what they felt were two stonewall penalties decisions not given with the score at 0-0 and 1-1.
Di Paola said: “I said this week was going to be hard (with five players out), but I felt we were doing ok until Kev Keehan had to come off.
“We only had really attacking players on the substitutes bench and it was not really what we wanted to do.
“Nothing really was going for us and Wezzo (Adam Westwood) called it in extra-time, that something would drop for them.
“There was not much in the game, but we had the two most guilt-edged penalty decisions against us - nothing was going our way.
“They (penalty decisions) cost us as their third strike was a brilliant one, but at 2-1 going ahead it’s a different game and we would have been able to hold out, but the officials were just awful.
“I cannot think of one time a key 50/50 decision has even gone our way and that’s got to change over the course of the season. It’s a bit cheesy but they should even themselves out and that’s got to start happening.
“Saturday for example the officials got no grief from me as the ref was fit, kept up with the game and was on top of all the decisions.”
In a tight first half both sides had good shouts for penalties waved away, Horsham’s seemingly a blatant handball as Kieron Pamment’s cross deflected off one defender and then was killed dead by an outstretched arm of another defender.
The Hornets did take the lead on 58 minutes when a great Alex Duncan cross was met by Archibald’s diving header to give the visitors the advantage.
Heath continued to work hard and on 72 minutes were rewarded when Dunk’s free-kick was well saved, but Barker was on hand to head home from close range, which was how it remained.
Horsham missed an early chance in the added period and nothing was given when new signing Nathan Crabb was then brought down by a defender’s trailing leg after getting past him.
On 104 minutes, however, Miller struck to give Heath the lead after Danny Turner nodded the ball down to him and with Horsham pushing at the death, the game was settled as Dunk hit a strike from 40 yards into the top corner that Gareth Williams could only watch go in.
Di Paola added: “It was a pretty even game and they got the rub of the green.
“They are a good side in their own right, although I did not see them troubling us too much. They just wanted it a bit more and good luck to them.”
Horsham: Williams, Duncan, Lewis, Keehan (Hopkinson), Jones, Farmer, Shelley, Hunt, Dodd, Pamment, Archibald (Crabb). Unused sub: Chadwick.
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