Horsham YMCA manager Peter Buckland admitted he felt ‘ashamed’ as they ended their season with a disappointing 7-1 defeat to newly-crowned champions Haywards Heath.
YM’s consolation goal came through Phil Johnson in the 54th minute following first-half strikes from Heath’s Joel Daly (two) and Kane Louis.
But hopes of a dramatic comeback were ended with further goals from Jamie Weston, Trevor McCreadie, George Hayward and Melford Simpson.
In front of a crowd of 395 at Gorings Mead, YM knew they would be up against it with the away side three points away from the title - although they were not awarded the trophy due to an ongoing investigation by the Kent FA, Sussex FA and FA that alleged Simpson has been playing while suspended.
Heath got off to a perfect start in the 14th minute when Daly tucked the ball home and their advantage was doubled after Daly grabbed his second of the game. It was 3-0 moments before the break when Louis fired home.
The home side began the second half better and pulled one back when Johnson headed home his 20th goal of the season.
However, it wasn’t to be as Heath scored four more unanswered goals to wrap up top spot in style.
Buckland said: “I’m a bit ashamed really, as much as I tried to motivate them before the game, I feel they all had their summer heads on. Don’t get me wrong Heath are a very good side, and we subconsciously weren’t on it, but it happens from time to time.”
The result means YM finished the season in 10th place and Buckland admitted it had been a poor season for his team. He said: “I feel that we have underachieved and been mediocre this season, we’ve had so many injuries and player’s unavailable, I was stuck in between a mass recruitment campaign or just to consolidate until Christmas which came around like that!
“It’s been a fragmented season, we’ve beaten Shoreham home and away and Pagham at their place when they were flying but then drawn with Wick when I could barely field an XI, it seems we kept taking two steps forwards and then one step back.”
Horsham YMCA; Fox, Carden, Shipton, Gilbert, Harding, Gathern, Pritchard-Cave, Johnson, Schaaf, Gedling, Evans. Subs: Buchanan, Curtis, Jermy.