Horsham's excellent pre-season form 'irrelevant' going into new season

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola. Picture by Derek Martin Photography
Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola. Picture by Derek Martin Photography

Dominic Di Paola stressed that Horsham's superb pre-season form is 'irrelevant' going into the 2019/20 BetVictor Premier Division campaign, despite the Hornets winning four games out of five in the off-season.

Horshams' pre-season began with an entertaining 4-3 win at Steyning Town on Tuesday July 9 before convincingly beating ten-man Hartley Wintney 4-1 in the first-ever game played at the Hornets' new Camping World Community Stadium four days later.

Di Paola's side secured a 2-0 home victory over Haywards Heath Town on Tuesday July 16 and Horsham officially marked the opening of their new home with a famous 3-1 win over League Two outfit Crawley Town on Saturday.

Last (Tuesday) night saw the Hornets suffer their first defeat of pre-season, going down 4-2 at Eastbourne Town. The Blue and Yellows opened the scoring on six minutes through Dan Rogers but Horsham levelled thanks to Chris Smith's penalty on 25 minutes.

Town retook the lead three minutes after the break with a terrific first-time effort from Dan Perry, before Perry's second and an own-goal made it 4-1.

Kieran Lavery reduced the deficit on 75 minutes but the Hornets couldn't force their way back into the game.

Di Paola was keen to emphasise that a good pre-season does not always translate to a good start to the league season, and that friendlies do not match the intensity and importance of competitive fixtures.

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The Horsham manager said: "When I won a league at East Preston I think I won one friendly out of seven. I’ve had other seasons where we’ve done really well in pre-season and gone into the season and been awful.

"I’ve said it a hundred times, but in an ideal world you’d have all the friendlies behind closed doors.

"I think the results are irrelevant and I really think it’s game situations you’re playing in. We took a player off at half-time (against Crawley) just as a precaution but in a normal game you’d leave him on as there’s an importance to the game.

"I just see pre-season as a process. If we think we’ve cracked it we’re deluded.

"But what’s nice is a few boys have got some goals and a few boys have defended well and the boys have got to know each other a little bit better and we’re slowly getting to where we need to be.

"We’ll know whether it has been a good pre-season in the first month of the season."

The Hornets have also confirmed that their BetVictor Premier Division fixture at home to Wingate & Finchley, originally scheduled for Saturday August 24, will now be played on Tuesday September 17 due to Horsham's FA Cup commitments.