Horsham boss pleads with fans and players 'not to feel the pressure' with Sussex Senior Cup semi final place at stake

Dominic Di Paola hopes Horsham supporters won't feel the pressure when his side host rivals Worthing in tonight's Sussex Senior Cup quarter final.

Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 2:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 2:38 pm
Former Mackerel, Harvey Sparks, is set to make his return after serving one-match suspension

Less than two weeks after their feisty Boxing Day encounter, which saw the Hornets finish with nine men, resulting in a 3-0 defeat, the near neighbours now clash at The Camping World Community Stadium for the first time.

Horsham squeezed through on penalties against Southern Combination Division One side Littlehampton Town in the previous round, while Worthing swept past another division one outfit, AFC Varndeanians, with a routine 3-0 victory.

Horsham Manager Di Paola insisted he won't be putting his players under pressure in tonight's match, insisting that their previous recent fixture won't be playing on his mind.

He said: "Every game’s a separate game, I don’t think any previous result impacts on another. I don’t think any form goes into winning games of football, every game is treated on it’s own merit.

"We might have a different team out tonight, just as they might have a different team, you just don’t know. I never think about the previous games, all I think about is can we cause them more problems and can we play better than what we’ve done then see what happens."

Horsham haven't won the competition since 1976 when they beat Hastings United 2-1 at Brighton's former Goldstone Ground home, and the Hornets haven't even reached the final since 2006, when they suffered a 3-1 defeat to Lewes.

In contrast, Worthing are the most successful side in the competition, having lifted the cup a record 21 times. Their last triumph came in 1999, beating Hastings Town 3-0, and the Mackerels have made the final three times since.

Their most recent trip to the May centrepiece at the Amex Stadium was back in 2016 when they were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Eastbourne Borough.

A win for the Hornets tonight would send them into their first semi-final in nine years, but, despite being a competition that Di Paola admitted he's desperate to win, he refused to put any pressure on the players.

He said: "You can only do what you can do. The final is at the Amex so everyone’s going to be doing their best to win it but you can’t always win so I’m pretty relaxed.

"We’ve had two real banana skins in the previous two rounds, and we’ve done well to get through them so we’ll just give it our all and hopefully our all’s enough.

"I don’t put us under any sort of pressure to beat Worthing as it’s just about pitting your wits against the opposition and seeing how you get on. They’ll be thinking the same, they’ll be desperate to win.

"There’s no pressure and I hope the supporters don’t feel it. We've just got to give it our best and see where we end up tonight."

Di Paola revealed he has a full squad to choose from, with the side boosted by the return of fullback Harvey Sparks, who's now served his one-match suspension following his red card at Worthing a fortnight ago.