‘Excited’ Di Paola runs the rule over new additions Harding, O’Toole, Harris and Hoare

Burgess Hill Town FC v Dulwich FC. Lee Harding. Pic Steve Robards SR1809402 SUS-180804-203903001
Burgess Hill Town FC v Dulwich FC. Lee Harding. Pic Steve Robards SR1809402 SUS-180804-203903001

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola has run the rule over his new signings and lauded the increased firepower and a strengthened central midfield.

The Hornets have made four summer additions so far and the manager believes they are in key areas ahead of the new Bostik League South East Division campaign.

The latest to put pen to paper this week was winger Lee Harding, who has joined from Burgess Hill.

The Hillians youth product broke into the first team at Leylands Park in 2014 and netted 11 times in all competitions for the Bostik League Premier Division outfit last season.

He follows in the footsteps of returning striker Rob O’Toole and midfielders Charlie Harris and Will Hoare.

Di Paola thinks added goals could make them a top-ten side, while strengthening the midfield was also key.

On Harding’s arrival, the manager said: “Lee decided on a change and knows a few of our boys. I spoke to him and it was quite an easy one. He wanted to give it a go and I think being at Lancing for the time being, it is relatively local.

“He is a good age, good player and good height. He will give us a goal threat from out wide, which is we have lacked – we have not scored enough from there – so he could be a great addition.

“He knows a few of the boys and will fit in well. He has a good attitude and has been good for Burgess Hill over the past few seasons, so hopefully that can transpire to us.

O’Toole netted six times in 12 games for Horsham last year before leaving for division-lower Saltdean, and Di Paola is over the moon to have re-signed the talisman.

He said: “In a struggling team, he was averaging a goal every other game. I think, if he had stayed, and we take the last six weeks of the season out of it when we had nothing to play for, we would have been a top-ten side.

“I think he would have averaged that goal ratio all season and it would have taken him into the 20 goals and it would have kicked us up the league. He carries a presence up there, holds the ball up and more than anything, he is a top lad.

“It was always my aim to get him back as the supporters like, he’s a bit of a talisman and we are excited to have him back.”

The Hornets were forced to play with a makeshift middle at times last season and made a key summer target to strengthen.

The re-signing of Harris 
and new recruit Hoare will do just that and Di Paola explained: “I felt centre-midfield was an area we lacked in last year. With Joe Keehan injured, Matt Axell’s availability an issue because of work and being up and down with the Hakeem Adelakun signing being a loan one and him in and out, we really struggled in there a bit.

“Signing Will and Charlie will give us much better competition for places in there and I think we were at our best last season when Charlie was in the team. We were stronger and picked up results. I’m glad to have him back, he’s a great signing. He really enjoyed playing for Horsham and it’s a good fit for him to get back on track.