Horsham YMCA coach Ben Godfrey hailed his squad’s determination as they fought back to record a 4-3 home win over AFC Uckfield Town in the Premier Division on Saturday to send them top.
YM raced into a 2-0 lead inside ten minutes through goals from Tony Nwachukwu and Tony Garrod, but on the stroke of half-time the Uckers pulled two back thanks to Callum Smith and Gianfranco Mici.
The visitors went ahead on the hour through Smith, but two goals in five second-half minutes from Garrod and Ash Dugdale saw YMCA battle back.
YM now sit top, two points ahead of Chichester City after they fell 3-2 away to Newhaven.
Godfrey said: “We were superb for 35 minutes, awful for 25 minutes and showed pure character and desire to get the winner in the last 15 minutes.
“Tom Gilbert went down injured before they scored their first goal but Uckfield were one of the best sides I’ve seen in the league.
“It was a great win to get but it wasn’t nice for anyone involved. My heart was all over the place.”
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With the Uckfield ‘keeper out of position, Nwachukwu took advantage on three minutes to put the hosts ahead and five minutes later good YM pressure saw Garrod make it 2-0.
Gilbert had to hobble off, leaving YMCA with ten-men. After a good passing move, Smith pulled a goal back for the Uckers on 45 minutes before the hosts failed to clear their lines, allowing Mici to level.
Smith’s goal on 58 minutes put Uckfield ahead, but YM bagged their equaliser on 70 minutes through Garrod before Dugdale headed in a cross from the right five minutes later.
YMCA did suffer a scare as the visitors had a goal ruled out minutes before full-time but the hosts held on.
Godfrey added: “Luke Gedling changed the game. We were just so panicky and we couldn’t get hold of the ball and we were rushing things.
When Luke came on we had a little change in shape and we looked after the ball and kept possession which helped how we played.”
YM travel to Lingfield on Tuesday in the quarter-finals of the Peter Bentley Challenge Cup (7:45p, k.o.) before making the trip to Arundel in the league on Saturday.
Horsham YMCA: Jeal, Carden, Evans, Gilbert (Gill 45'), Donaghey, Mobsby, Nwachukwu, Dugdale, Bown (Schaaf 75'), Garrod, Hartley (Gedling 61').