‘For the first time, we have the luxury of a squad where everyone will contribute’

Horsham applaud supporters after Potters Bar Town win. Picture by John Lines
Horsham applaud supporters after Potters Bar Town win. Picture by John Lines

Horsham are benefitting from the luxury of having a squad where everyone will contribute this season for the first time during his reign, according to manager Dominic Di Paola.

The Hornets have found their feet in recent weeks with a new-look side which was put together during the summer.

They showed their strength in depth on Saturday with four changes in the FA Trophy victory against division-higher Potters Bar Town. Their reward is a third qualifying round home tie against National League South side Bath City on Sunday, November 25 - due to landlords Lancing being at home on the Saturday.

Add to that, their improved form in the Bostik League South East Division, sitting tenth with games in hand, and things are looking rosy.

The Hornets struggled in recent years to maintain a quality squad, due to having no reserve team, with plenty of comings and goings from the players not featuring in the starting XI every week.

But they appear to have the right mix this year with anyone able to step into the starting line-up and maintain the quality.

Di Paola said: “We have got no plans to bring anyone in at the moment - we’ve got a squad of 16/17 players and everyone will contribute and make 30 starts over the course of the season.

“We’ve never had that luxury before - even when we won the County League we had a tiny little squad and were reliant on 11 or 12 players.

“Whoever comes in never lets us down and that’s what so good about this squad. It’s never an issue, whoever I pick I know what I am going to get from them.

“Their effort, hard work, commitment and willingness to be part of the squad and not just starting is showing through with results. You have to take your hat off to them, they are a great bunch.”

Chris Smith’s 88th-minute goal gave the Hornets a 1-0 victory and it was the third time in four rounds they have beaten a higher-division side in the competition.

And Di Paola is delighted they have found a proven goalscorer to lead the line along with Rob O’Toole.

He said: “Chris was out on his feet at half-time fitness-wise for being able to do what he can normally do.

“But he’s the kind of player who is a goalscorer and you know if there’s half a chance, he will take it.

“That’s what he’s done throughout his whole footballing career; he’s a finisher. We have not had that luxury since we’ve been in the Bostik League.

“He did similar against Ashford, one chance, goal, Tuesday night against Storrington. He gets these opportunities and he’ll take them. That’s what he’s all about.”

The attention turns back to league action on Saturday, where the Hornets will be trying to continue to climb from tenth in the table.

Di Paola added: “Now we’ve got VCD Athletic and it’s a bonus we have no game on Tuesday as hopefully no-one will be missing as there is time for knocks to heal.”