Horsham YMCA returned to winning ways on Saturday as they ground out an important 2-1 home win over Selsey.
After a disappointing Christmas and New Year period, which saw YM suffer back to back defeats, surrender their unbeaten home league record and drop to fifth, it was vital to stop the rot.
Following a dull goalless first 45 minutes, a second half Ashley Dugdale strike and an own goal, either side of a Selsey equaliser, provided YM with the three points.
“It was hard work and I won’t pretend that I wasn’t anything other than frustrated for large parts of the game, but sometimes you’ve got to win ugly,” YM boss Peter Buckland said. “People will look at the result and think it was only 2-1, playing at home with an own goal being the winning goal. But I’ve just been out on the pitch, and even from the dugout, let alone sitting up in the stand, I think it is hard to appreciate just how sticky the pitch is out there.
YM were forced to start the game without a recognised striker, as leading goalscorer Nick Sullivan was unavailable along with Martin Smith, Craig Grantham (both injured) and Dave Brown (suspended).
It led to a reshuffle which showed in a first half where neither side created much, Dan Sullivan spurning YM’s best two openings.
In contrast, the second half took only a minute and 35 seconds to kick into action with YM skipper Dugdale opening the scoring. A clipped Adam Hutchings cross was cleared to the edge of the area, where the midfielder expertly drilled home on the half volley.
The goal seemed to provide YM with an immediate lift, as a whipped Wood cross found Curtis at the near post, but he could only head over.
The hosts’ lead was short-lived as just eight minutes later the Blues were back on level terms. YM were dispossessed in midfield, and Selsey striker Dan Harrington was released down the left, and he cut in and curled into the far top corner with Selsey’s first shot on goal.
The equaliser provided the hosts with even greater desire, and Kevin Burgess and then Matt Crane had chances from set pieces.
Buckland introduced Grantham with 25 minutes to play, and the big forward played a part in the goal. He combined with Wood and Sullivan before a hopeful cross into the box rebounded off Blues’ goalkeeper Joyce, onto defender Jack Bingham and into the net.
YM stopper Sam Smith made his only save of the afternoon to preserve all three points for his side.
Buckland concluded: “The longer a little crisis goes on, the harder it is to get out of it. I said to the players that we needed to turn it around today, get the three points and get out of the little rut we were in, which we’ve done.”
YM (4-2-3-1): S. Smith, Wood, Crane, Burgess, O’Carroll, Dugdale, Hunter (Gannon 74), Evans, D. Sullivan, Hutchings (Grantham 65), B. Curtis (J. Brown).