Horsham YMCA suffered their first defeat of the Premier Division season on Saturday as Liam Baitup hit a last-gasp winner as they were edged out 2-1 by high-flying Eastbourne United.
Despite lacking a number of key personnel through recent knocks and other commitments, YM took the field with solid team and were looking to build on a decent start to the league campaign.
The conditions in the first half saw very limited chances with a number of testing shots from range, but neither keeper was given a stern test in the opening period.
The following exchanges continued to be in tune with the energy sapping weather as the likes of Sam Schaaf, Dean Wright and Phil Johnson tried to forge openings.
A three-minute spell around half-hour mark saw first Johnson then Schaaf and finally Ash Dugdale test the goal a series of openings before Eastbourne applied some pressure with a free-kick and some corners that saw YM’s defence given a wake up.
Johnson had a golden opportunity to put YM ahead after 40 minutes but his shot sailed agonisingly over from the edge of the box.
Just before the break, Eastbourne produced their best chance of the half forcing goalkeeper Mark Fox into a save turning the ball around post for a corner.
The last action of the half saw Matt Crane start a move that resulted a turn and shot by the impressive Schaaf before the half was brought to a close.
An unchanged YM came out of the blocks very quickly in the second half with Schaaf finishing from close range after a well-worked team move in the opening move of the second half that woke the game up.
Eastbourne had a very good opportunity to draw level with only the quick thinking of Tom Gilbert turning the ball behind for a corner with the hosts poised to strike.
After a short spell of Eastbourne pressure the busy Bailo Camara broke through to latch onto a cross field ball and restore parity in a game whose tempo started to defy the humid conditions.
With just over 20 minutes left, Schaaf once again broke clear after a link up with the industrious Johnson but the move was smothered by the Eastbourne defence.
As the match entered its final stages chances became more frequent at both ends with first Crane testing the Eastbourne goal before Fox was forced into action at the other end.
A tremendous opportunity fell to YM to take the three points as a powerful Crane header was parried to Gilbert who fired over in the last minute of normal time.
Once again YM tasted defeat with a late injury-time winner. A ball played into the box saw substitute Liam Baitup put the match to bed.
After the game Peter Buckland was full of praise for the efforts, energy and character the team showed in a hard fought game against a very good host team.
He said: “We had a few absences today and players had to adapt to a different system as a result, we played a containing game and nearly gained the result we wanted.
“We must dust ourselves down and prepare for our local derby with Loxwood on Tuesday night.”
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