Di Paola praises 'professional performance' on the road as Horsham close in on the play-offs

Sittingbourne v Horsham. Chris Smith in congratulated by Joey Taylor and Tyrell Richardson-Brown on his hat-trick. Picture by John Lines
Sittingbourne v Horsham. Chris Smith in congratulated by Joey Taylor and Tyrell Richardson-Brown on his hat-trick. Picture by John Lines

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola praised a 'professional performance' as his side hit Sittingbourne for six on Saturday and all-but sealed a promotion place.

A Chris Smith hat-trick, two Jack Brivio headers and an own goal helped the Hornets to a 6-1 success in Kent which means with their superior goal difference, it will take a huge swing for them to finish outside of the top five in the South East Division of the Bostik League.

Sittingbourne v Horsham. Chris Smith turns away from two defenders before netting his second goal. Picture by John Lines

Sittingbourne v Horsham. Chris Smith turns away from two defenders before netting his second goal. Picture by John Lines


The victory was Horsham’s 20th of the season and saw them onto 65 points and up to second in the table. It looked as though that would seal a play-off place as sixth-placed VCD Athletic’s were losing 1-0 at Ramsgate until a late turnaround saw them win 2-1.


With their four games left and being on 53 points, if they win all of their remaining fixtures they can now only match Horsham’s points, but Dominic Di Paola’s side have a goal difference of 24 over them.


The visitors led 2-0 at half-time on Saturday through a Smith volley and Brivio header the latter coming in added time.


Smith showed neat feet to turn and make it 3-0 on 53 minutes, before an Lex Allan own goal in the 80th minute extended their lead. From there, Horsham ran riot as Smith completed his treble from the penalty spot and Brivio headed in his second free kick

Sittingbourne v Horsham. Jack Brivio celebrates his first goal. Picture by John Lines

Sittingbourne v Horsham. Jack Brivio celebrates his first goal. Picture by John Lines


Goalkeeper Joe Mant's debut was spoiled late on, being denied a clean sheet by allowing a tame effort from substitute Billy Lewis through in added time.


Di Paola said: "Once we got to grips with the surface and that, I think we played well. We scored at a good time just before half-time which helped a bit, but in the second half we came out and were really, really good.


"We were really positive and I thought it was a really good professional performance away from home. At times, we played some quite good football, but we also played good football in the right areas.


"The only negative of the day was conceding at the end there. I couldn't see if it was a foul, the defenders are saying it was, but I don't know. What I do know is that it is disappointing because for the second week in a row we have thrown away a clean sheet - I love a clean sheet and I know the defenders do.


"But I am being ultra critical because we played it really well. I think we were really good. It was a physical game, you expect it though, you have to deal with it as it's all part and parcel of football.


"Once we got into our stride I do not think they could get near us quick enough, at the start we were a bit slow and over playing a little bit at times. Once we hit that stride, they weren't able to get in and amongst us and we were able to play our football. I thought it was a really good performance."