Horsham continued the celebrations on New Year’s Day with an impressive 2-1 victory over Bostik League South Division leaders Lewes at Culver Road.
The Hornets inflicted their title-chasing visitors with just their fourth defeat of the campaign and continue to prove somewhat of a bogey side for the Rooks.
Early goals from Charlie Harris and Hakeen Adelakun put the home side in control in front of a crowd of 331 and despite having goalkeeper Brannon Daly stretched off just before half-time, held out for victory against a side they also completed a league double against last season.
Goalscorer and recent signing Harris then took over in goal and while he did have to pick Ghassimu Sow’s goal out of his net midway through the second half, Horsham secure the three points to start 2018.
Hornets manager Dominic Di Paola said: “The boys were brilliant. In the first half they followed the instructions to a tee and were very, very good.
“Brannon then went off injured just before half-time and the second half was very different.
“We did not set-up how we ended up, I think the boys were a bit nervous with an outfield player in goal and conceded a lot of space in front of us.
“But I was really happy. We lost us captain Scott Kirkwood in the warm-up and you are thinking, ‘great, just before a big derby.’
“It was nice to give the fans something to smile about. They don’t like going to Lancing much as it’s difficult to get there, so it’s nice to put a smile on people’s faces.”
Lewes went closes in the third minute when Daly flapped at a cross, but Hartley back heeled off the line.
Seconds later the home side led as Darren Boswell’s cross was headed across goal and under the bar by Harris.
Chris Winterton then kept out a Curtis Gayler shot, but in the 13th minute, the Lewes ‘keeper was picking the ball out of his own net once again. Adelakun received a pass on the edge of the box and his deflected effort flew into the top corner.
Horsham then had a great opportunity to make it 3-0, when Gayler released Tony Nwachukwu, who shot at Winterton.
Lewes’ best chance of the half saw former Hornet Billy Medlock fire a free kick from just outside the D directly at the Horsham wall.
Then, just before half-time, Daly collided with several players in the box and fell heavily with play needing to be stopped for several minutes as the goalkeeper was stretchered off.
Lewes pulled a goal back on the hour mark when Sow unleashed a thunderbolt from 25-yards out that Harris could do little about.
The majority of the play continued in the Horsham half and Sow headed narrowly wide as he connected with a free kick, while substitute Omar Lawson’s effort was deflected at Harris.
A succession of corners came to nothing as the Horsham defence stood strong, while at the other end, Josh Street was denied by Winterton, as was Adelakun on a counter.
Di Paola added: “Lewes might have been having an off day as they have had a busy Christmas as well, but they are decent side and I still think they will go up.”
Horsham: Daly (Boiling 45), Harris, Farmer, Shelley, Metcalf, Hartley, Gayler, Adelakun, Boswell (MacDevitt 72), Nwachukwu, House (Street 62). Unused: Duncan, Bown.