Horsham 2, Greenwich Borough 0: Harding strikes on return to put Hornets on the brink of the play-off places
Lee Harding marked his first start since September with a goal as Horsham moved to within touching distance of the Bostik League South East play-off places tonight.
Substitute Tyrell Richardson-Brown also came off the bench to net in a 2-0 victory against struggling Greenwich Borough at Culver Road.
Harding's goal broke the deadlock early in second half after the Hornets had missed a glut of chances having suffered from a slow start.
It was a brilliant return for the attacker on his return to the starting line-up for the first time in 15 games since fracturing his wrist early in the season.
His replacement on the hour, Richardson-Brown then made the game safe on 75 minutes after a sloppy spell from the hosts which followed going a goal up went unpunished.
The result moved Horsham up to sixth in the table - just two goals away from climbing into the play-off places by virtue of overtaking Whyteleafe on goals scored, after their 2-0 win over Hastings United.
At Lancing, both sides were return to league action after their FA Trophy exploits at the weekend; Horsham exiting narrowly in a 2-1 defeat to Bath City and Greenwich going out in a 3-0 reverse to Truro City, both National League South opposition.
The Hornets could boast the better league form going into the clash, unbeaten in five with four wins and a draw, whereas The Cannons had only one win in seven league attempts.
With little over 48 hours since their last outing, Dominic Di Paola made three changes bringing in Dean Lovegrove, Joey Taylor and Harding. Steve Metcalf, Tyrell Richardson-Brown and George Hayward dropped to the bench.
In a fairly open first ten minutes, Borough had the first couple of opportunities with Reece Deakin curling a free kick over the bar and Teshuane Tyreece Walters putting a tame effort at Josh Pelling. At the other end, Harding tamely struck at Thomas McGill.
It took 22 minutes for Horsham to carve out their first real move. Will Hoare pinched the ball from Connor Peters and drove forward into the opposition's half, before spraying the ball out to Rob O'Toole. The striker's cross picked out Hoare, who had continued his run, but he wasn't set and his close-range header was way off target.
Soon after, a low Lovegrove cross was missed by Jack Brivio and just caught by the trailing leg of the arriving Harvey Sparks, but it flicked wide of the far post where Harding was also arriving.
Lovegrove was proving effective on the right and another cross to the back post was headed into the danger zone by Harding, but Hoare put his half-volley from 14 yards well over.
The chances were stacking up and an O'Toole knock-down was almost latched onto by Harding, but McGill raced from his goaline to block away the ball in the penalty area.
Harris sent one over the bar and Sparks hit a first-time lofted effort after a nice ball in between the centre-back and right-back the same way.
With five minutes of the half left to play, Harding put in a neat turn to beat two players and again spread to ball out to O'Toole. Another decent ball in from the frontman found Taylor, but his effort was cleared off the line by Amos Dadet.
A neat one-two between Brivo and Harding then saw McGill down well to save the latter's effort from the right of the box and the loose ball bounced away from three arriving Horsham players.
Less than three minutes into the second half was on the clock and Horsham continued where they left off. Harding fed Brivio and he put Taylor through on the angle, but McGill pushed his left-footed effort onto the bar and wide.
Just three minutes later, Horsham had the breakthrough they had been threatening. Dadet was caught on the ball at the back and dispossessed, but O'Toole forced another diving save from McGill. Harding was first to react amongst a slow backline and set himself before finally breaking the visitors' resilience with a calm finish
In a rare shot from the visitors, Pelling was down well to hold Laurent Mendy's effort in the 61st minutes. And as Greenwich enjoyed their best spell in a period of sloppy play from Horsham, Philipp Brown-Bampoe had Pelling scramble across to his near post with an effort from range.
The Hornets rode out that period of gifting the ball away and put the game to bed on 75 minutes. Lovegrove slid O'Toole away in the box and his second attempt at a cross, while lying down, found substitute Richardson-Brown, who tapped in at the far post.
That is how it remained as the result saw Horsham jump three places up from ninth in the table.
Horsham: Pelling, Lovegrove, Shelley, Merchant-Simmons (Hyde 79), Taylor, Sparks, Brivio (Hayward 76), Harris, Hoare, Harding (Richardson-Brown 62), O'Toole. Unused subs: McElligott, Metcalf.
Greenwich Borough: McGill, Dadet, Peters, Ojemen, Kudyiwa, Peters, Walters (Roberts 24, Savage 83), Kurtaran, Mendy, Oyugi, Deakin, Brown-Bampoe. Subs: Garlinge, King-Elliott, Demby.
Referee: Alastair Higgs.