‘Below-par’ Horsham delighted with a battling point over ‘excellent’ East Grinstead Town

East Grinstead v Horsham. Kieran Lavery in action. Picture by John Lines
East Grinstead v Horsham. Kieran Lavery in action. Picture by John Lines

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola was delighted to take a point off an ‘excellent’ East Grinstead and saluted his players’ battling quality when far from their best.

An intriguing derby was expected at East Court with second-placed Horsham - unbeaten in five Bostik League South East Division games - facing a free-scoring Wasps side that had dispatched Hastings United on Saturday.

East Grinstead v Horsham. Tyrell Richardson-Brown. Picture by John Lines

East Grinstead v Horsham. Tyrell Richardson-Brown. Picture by John Lines

Instead it produced a fairly drab 0-0 stalemate - a result that pushed Horsham onto 52 points, a gap of two from third-placed Hastings.

Going into the clash, Di Paola had warned of the threat of onloan Kingstonian frontman Greg Cundle, but the Hornets managed to keep the inform striker fairly quiet.

Josh Pelling was, however, required to preserve a point on two occasions in the second half, saving from Jerson Dos Santos and Ollie Boulding.

And with what Di Paola saw as a ‘below par’ showing, he was happy to pick out the positives.

The manager said: “It was a really tough one. I thought East Grinstead were excellent on the night and we did really well to get something out of the game.

“Not that I think they caused us ridiculous problems, we were pretty below par. The boys did brilliant, they gave everything and kept plugging away.

“It was a good point. Last time we were like that was the Haywards Heath game, the difference being, this time we came away with a point.

“We just hung in the game having never created much. We were pretty solid at the back apart from a few little errors. You just draw a line under it and move on.

“It’s another one down and another point to add on. It was one of those games where nothing went for us. Sometimes you have them - every ball or bounce just falls for your opponent.”

The Hornets made two changes from the team that won 4-1 at Whyteleafe on Saturday with Goerge Hayward coming in for the unavailable Steve Metcalf and Lee Harding being rested to the bench with Tyrell Richardson-Brown coming in.

After a slow start, the first chance came on 20 minutes when Richardson-Brown kept the ball in play and pulled it back for Rob O’Toole, who in turn found Hayward, but the midfielder fired well over.

Soon after, a Lee Prescott free kick beat the Horsham wall, but was saved by a low dive from Pelling.

Another 25 minutes passed in the second half, before eventually a chance fell to the hosts when the best move of the match presented itself to Dos Santos. Despite offside calls, he ran onto a long ball and raced through, but was brilliantly denied by a charging Pelling.

With just six minutes to play, Harvey Sparks failed to deal with a clearance and Boulding broke clear behind the defence, although he fired straight at another brave block from Pelling.

Horsham: Pelling, Lovegrove, Shelley, Merchant, Sparks, Richardson-Brown, Hayward (Pearse 45), Brivio, O’Toole, Smith (Harding 70), Lavery. Unused: Hyde, Kirkwood, Hogan.