‘Excellent’ Horsham showed their ugly side to make it five wins from seven games by brushing aside Sittingbourne for their first-ever victory at Woodstock Park.
The victory in dreadful conditions on Saturday saw the Hornets climb to 11th in the South Division of the Bostik League and exact revenge on a 5-1 reverse back in September.
Tidy finishes from Tony Nwachukwu and Toby House put them 2-0 ahead just past the half-hour mark, before Tom Loynes reduced the deficit before the break.
Chances came and went at either end in the second half, but the returning George Landais - on his second loan stint from Lewes - made the points safe in injury-time.
Di Paola said: “I thought we played really well. The pitch was hard to play football on, so it wasn’t really one for the spectators. It was a good performance though and I felt we played the conditions better than they did, we were really, really good.
“The boys were excellent and I cannot fault them. I like games like that - a battling game It’s nice to play football good football and that is what it is all about, I guess, but I do like to have an ugly one at times. It shows a good side of a group and a team.
“There was no other way to do it really. We tried for the first 20 minutes, until the pitch started cutting up.”
With driving rain and wind from the kick-off, Horsham took the lead with their first attack when Steve Metcalf’s cross was lifted into the net via the hands of goalkeeper Harry Brooks thanks to a clever touch by Nwachukwu.
Lewis Hyde’s header was cleared off the line, while at the other end, Josh Pelling denied Kane Rowland after a quick break, before Chris Webber’s cross clipped the bar.
On 33 minutes, a long ball forwards found House and he saw Brooks off his line and hit a brilliant chip over the goalkeeper.
The home side pulled one back just two minutes later when Loynes was picked out and he managed to find the far corner. They then spurned a chance to level before half-time as David Smith shot wide when well-placed.
In the second half, Mobolaji Dawodu wasted a fine chance to equalise, putting wide when it looked easier to score.
Horsham were then penalised by the referee after Pelling saved a sliced clearance on the line, but an indirect free-kick was given, although it was blasted into the Horsham wall.
Sittingbourne pushed men forward in the closing stages, but Landais was teed-up by Dean Bown late in added-time to show composure and finish.
Horsham: Pelling, Metcalf, Farmer, Hyde, Hartley, Gayler, Kirkwood, Axell, Boswell (Landais 70), Nwachukwu (Bown 58), House (Rogers 83). Unused: Street.