Dominic Di Paola admitted he ‘slept like a baby’ due to ‘sheer relief’ after Horsham completed a dramatic late comeback to win 2-1 at Corinthian Casuals on Tuesday evening and move up to second in the BetVictor Premier Division.
The Hornets failed to fire in the first half. Their usual flowing football was hampered by the torrential downpour in Surrey.
A poor opening 45 minutes was compounded when Coskun Ekim gave Casuals the lead at the break.
The second period saw Horsham fail to muster any clear cut chances but that all changed in an extraordinary two minutes at the death.
Jack Brivio’s strike on 88 minutes seemed to give the Hornets a share of the spoils until Kieran Lavery bundled home to complete a remarkable turnaround.
Di Paola said: “Midweek games you find it hard to go to sleep because the adrenaline is running through you and you keep analysing the game.
“But last night I slept like a baby. It was just sheer relief.
“The result was through sheer character. It wasn’t about the football, it was about character and commitment to each other.
“By God, did we work hard last night. We put the mileage in.
“I thought in most areas of the pitch we were the better side. Our defence was on top, our midfield was on top, we just struggled to really threaten and cause them problems.
“I don’t think we stuck to tasks particularly well last night but when I reflect on it, and the emotion has gone out of the game, it was very tricky conditions.”
The opening quarter of the game saw little in the way of goalmouth action but on 15 minutes the hosts went ahead.
Ekim arrowed a free-kick over the wall and past Horsham keeper George Bentley to give Casuals the lead.
Despite going behind the Hornets failed to test Casuals stopper Emmanuel Agboola before half-time.
Zack Newton saw his effort from the edge of the box blocked on 37 minutes but that was all the visitors could fashion before the break.
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But Horsham showed signs of positivity after the restart. Agboola spilt a corner on 47 minutes but a defender was on hand to clear off the line and spare his embarrassment.
Eight minutes later Newton saw his snapshot tipped away by Agboola. Charlie Harris then fired a free-kick just over on the hour mark.
Casuals had rarely threatened since going in front but suddenly sprung into life.
On 65 minutes Bentley was called upon to make a great low save to keep the Hornets in the game.
Bentley then did superbly to keep out a Casuals shot from long-distance eight minutes later.
But with two minutes to go Horsham produced two moments of magic to complete a miraculous comeback.
A beautifully weight through ball to Brivio was stabbed home on 88 minutes to level.
And right at the death, substitute Lavery scrambled home a corner to complete an unbelievable turnaround.
Di Paola added: “If we hadn’t had scored the goals at the end, you think how would morale be today and over the next few days? Probably quite low.
“Could those players have got a mouthful after the game from us? Potentially yes.
“It was probably best we didn’t lose our heads and have a go because it would’ve been unfair on the boys.
“Sometimes you expect these players to be robots and just do what they’re told. Football’s not like that.
“It’s played with humans who’ve had a long day at work and they’ve played on a tricky surface.”
Horsham: Bentley, Mills, Sparks, Brivio, Shelley, Miles, Newton (Pamment 64), Dawson, Smith (Lavery 64), Harris, Harding (O’Toole 56). Unused: Metcalf, Hayward.