Dominic Di Paola praised opponents Carshalton Athletic as the best side they have played all season as they ended Horsham’s unbeaten run in emphatic style on Saturday.
The 5-1 defeat was the Hornets’ first of 2017 with their eight-game league run ended as the Ryman League South Division top scorer Tommy Bradford netted a hat-trick for the home side on their 3G surface.
Horsham boss Di Paola conceded that the hosts were fully deserving of their win and admitted: “They were really good, you have got to give them their due.
“They were a really good and well organised side to be fair and the best team we have played. Both times we have played them, they have been excellent and you have to give them the credit they deserve.
“In fairness, we had set out to play a certain way and they scored a worldy within a few minutes, so that killed the game plan.
“Scott Harris then gave away a free kick already having been booked and the referee intimated that if he gave away another foul he’d be off. They scored another great goal from that free kick and then we had to make a change to take Scott and Ollie Gill off, which is losing our holding midfielder.
“We had a couple of chances and scored with a penalty, but they then scored again just before the break. We spoke about a few things at half-time, but they came back out and scored again, so they were all good times to score, but we didn’t play that well either.
“I felt sorry for the boys as they didn’t deserve such a scoreline, it was not as bad as it looks, but I suppose you have to hold your hands up when you have been beat 5-1.”
The hosts led after just three minutes as Rio Davidson-Phipps unleashed a shot that crashed in off the underside of the bar.
The hosts doubled their lead on 26 minutes when Scott Harris, who had already been booked, committed a foul on Ryan Gondoh on the edge of the semi-circle. Bradford took full advantage and curled into the top-right corner.
Ten minutes before the break, the visitors did pull a goal back as Paris Hamilton-Downes was adjudged to have handed in the box and Scott Kirkwood put away the penalty.
On the stroke of half-time, the Robins restored their two-goal cushion with Bradford’s low shot squirming past Pelling as the Horsham back-four switching off.
Seven minutes into the second half, the home side killed off any distant Horsham hopes as Bradford drove forwards and curled past Pelling for his third goal.
Carshalton added a fifth with 15 minutes remaining as a defence-splitting pass put Ryan Gondoh away and he squared to Folkes to finish.
Horsham: Pelling, Metcalf, Jones, Farmer, Hyde, Kirkwood, Gill (Branford 37), Harris (Clark 37), Boswell (Nwachukwu), Rogers, Gaskin. Unused: Lawley, Hunt.