Garrod brace clinches Horsham YMCA fourth spot after disappointing run-in

Tony Garrod playing for Burgess Hill at the end of last year, before joining Horsham YMCA.  Pic Steve Robards SR1720534
Tony Garrod playing for Burgess Hill at the end of last year, before joining Horsham YMCA. Pic Steve Robards SR1720534

A Tony Garrod brace helped Horsham YMCA end their recent run of promotion-costing poor form and conclude their Premier Division campaign with a victory on Tuesday.

A goal in each half from the striker saw YM record their second league win in nine attempts and secure fourth-place in the standings.

Their misfiring run-in has seen Peter Buckland’s side, who looked front-runners in the title and promotion battle, crash from their March position on top of the table.

Before that, they had been in imperious form; unbeaten in 12 league matches and had lost just once in 20 games.

Missing out on promotion after such a solid run in the middle of the season has come as a bitter pill to swallow for the Gorings Mead outfit.

Heath ended the season strongly to win the division for a second successive season, only to have points deducted later on last year after fielding an illegible player.

Three Bridges, who could still take the title on the final day, had to settle for second, a point behind Heath. While Pagham finished third, nine points behind the leaders, but with two more than YM.

Garrod, however, who joined earlier in the season from Burgess Hill, ensured their final league game ended with three points on Tuesday night.

Buckland said: “I am delighted to have finished the league campaign on a high with an away win against a very resilient Crawley Down side. This was very good news as we prepare for our cup final on Monday.”

After an early scare when Oli Leslie missed a great opportunity for the hosts, YM started to carve out chances.

They took the lead on 33 minutes when Garrod broke through and fired into an empty net with goalkeeper Lorcan Healy out of position.

Missed chances from Phil Johnson and Dave Brown meant that YM failed to extend their lead before the break.

Michael Belli went closest to levelling for Crawley Down in the second half, before Garrod made the points safe with nine minutes to play with an effort on the turn.

YM do have the opportunity to conclude the campaign with silverware on Monday when they take on Haywards Heath Town in the final of the Peter Bentley Cup.

YM will be trying to capture their first cup in four years against the newly-crowned Southern Combination League champions.

The match takes place at Hassock’s Beacon ground (11am). See Thursday’s West Sussex County Times for a full preview.

Horsham YMCA: Jeal, Carde, Gilbert, Donaghey, Harding, Evans, Gedling, Dugdale, Brown, Garrod, Johnson. Subs: Cave, Curtis, Moore.