Despite another defeat, Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola praised his side’s character and effort after admitting they could have ‘collapsed’ against Carshalton Athletic.
After an 8-0 drubbing in the FA Trophy on Saturday and one win in their past five in the Bostik League South Division, The Hornets are down on their luck.
With an injury list totalling nine players, they hosted a Robins side on Tuesday night that had scored 29 goals in nine matches before defeats in their last two.
With that in mind, Di Paola was as satisfied as you could be with a 1-0 defeat, happy with the commitment and delighted to not be playing players out of position.
Liam MacDevitt started the match having only joined from Lewes earlier in the day, Joe Shelley was superb display in a central defence role, while debutant goalkeeper James Fernandes caught the eye with a number of saves.
Di Paola said: “A loss is a loss, but in fairness to the boys after where we have been in the last few games, I felt quite happy.
“They did all they could to try and do right by the club and get a result. The boys could have turned up and collapsed given the last few results - Shoreham aside - but they showed character and I was pleased with that.
“Carshalton are a good side and as critical as I was Saturday, I felt our work and endeavour probably deserved a point. They have some unbelievable attackers and one or two that I cannot understand why they have not been picked up higher up the pyramid.
“We had one or two good chances that with maybe a bit more belief, we could have scored, although they did have a good few chances in the second half.”
Fernandes denied Ricky Korboa early on, while at the other end, Scott Kirkwood forced Robins ‘keeper Billy Bishop into a diving save.
Will Robinson struck a low drive at Bishop before the match settled into a midfield tussle. The next real chance saw a clipped Steve Metcalf free kick hit the side netting.
Carshalton led seven minutes before the break when Tommy Bradford’s ball picked out Mickel Miller, who headed home.
Mekhail McLaughlin was then only inches away from turning home a Bradford’s free-kick at the other end before half-time.
Fernandes did well to deflect Miller’s effort up and off the bar nine minutes after the restart, before Bradford shot against the post. Horsham were under pressure in the second period, and Fernandes denied another Ricky Korboa chance - while the defensive line also stood strong.
In the closing stages substitute Toby House set up Kirkwood for a shot that was blocked by goalkeeper Bishop in their best chance of the second half.
Di Paola added: “I had a back five that could play in the right positions which makes a big difference! For the past few weeks we have had square pegs in round holes. Wezzo (Adam Westwood), set them up really well, hats off to him as we had a long talk before the game and they stuck to task.”
Horsham: Fernandes, Metcalf, Farmer, Shelley, Duncan (House 72), Robinson, Kirkwood, Street (Boswell 83), Hartley (Waller 80), MacDevitt, Landais. Unused subs: Harris, Hunter.