Horsham's Senior Cup defeat a 'crushing blow' for Di Paola

Horsham blowing a two-goal lead at half-time in Tuesday night’s 3-2 home defeat to Worthing in the Sussex Senior Cup quarter-final was a ‘crushing blow’ for manager Dominic Di Paola.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 4:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 4:56 pm
Rob O'Toole opened the scoring for Horsham in their dramatic Senior Cup defeat to Worthing. Picture by Steve Robards

An early Rob O’Toole goal and a Lea Dawson wonder strike put the hosts in a commanding position at the break. But the Reds produced a stunning second half comeback to snatch victory

An Ollie Pearce spot-kick reduced the arrears just after the hour mark before he doubled his advantage, and levelled the tie, on 78 minutes.

Substitute Reece Myles-Meekums blasted home eight minutes from time to send Horsham crashing out of the cup.

Di Paola said: “It’s a tricky one to accept but at the same time we played into their hands a little bit in the second half.

“We turned the ball over so much in the second half and they’re a team that if they keep the ball then eventually they will wear you down.

“I think they’re a better team than us but I do think when you’re 2-0 up, with the way we defend, you’d see the game out.

“Two or three of our boys were out on their feet and that was disappointing. We wanted to make some tactical changes but we had to make changes because people were struggling.

“We let ourselves down in the second half and we’ve got to look at ourselves as a group.

“It was a crushing blow for me personally. It was a tough one for me to take.”

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Midway through the first half the Hornets doubled their advantage, and in some style.

The ball was cleared by the Reds and sat up for Dawson 40 yards out. The midfielder let fly with a venomous long-range half-volley that soared over Worthing stopper Carl Rushworth and into the net.

After a quiet opening, the second half exploded into life on 56 minutes. Pearce’s free-kick on the edge of the area was fumbled by Horsham goalkeeper George Bentley.

A Reds player followed up and wheeled away in celebration, thinking he’d tucked home the rebound.

But no goal was signalled and the referee awarded a corner. The Reds erupted into protest but, after the referee consulted with his linesman, the decision to give a corner stood.

Worthing were back in the game on 64 minutes. Harvey Sparks gave away a penalty and Pearce coolly slotted home the spot-kick.

The visitors grabbed a deserved leveller with 12 minutes to go. A good passing move upfield created a scramble in the Hornets box but Pearce smashed the ball in at the far post.

Worthing’s unbelievable turnaround was complete four minutes later. Substitute Marvin Armstrong slipped in fellow replacement Myles-Meekums, who blasted home to turn the tie on its head.

Horsham: Bentley, Metcalf, Sparks, Kelly, Mills, Miles, O’Toole (Pamment 46), Dawson, Lavery (Smith 83), Harris (Brivio 67), Roberts. Unused: Charman, Harding, Smith.