Horsham 1, Guernsey 1: Hornets praised for ‘excellent’ second half, but wasted chances results in last-minute leveller

Horsham v Guernsey - Rob O'Toole strokes Horsham ahead. Picture by John Lines
Horsham v Guernsey - Rob O'Toole strokes Horsham ahead. Picture by John Lines

A wasteful showing in front of goal saw Horsham’s 2019 get off to a frustrating start as Guernsey bagged an 89th-minute equaliser at Culver Road.

Channel Islander Carlos Canha headed home late on to level up Rob O’Toole’s fortuitous 76th-minute goal in the Bostik League South East Division New Year’s Day clash.

Horsham v Guernsey - Rob O'Toole celebrates. Picture by John Lines

Horsham v Guernsey - Rob O'Toole celebrates. Picture by John Lines

The Hornets enjoyed plenty of possession, but failed to take advantage in the first half and then also relented from adding a second in the closing stages, before being pegged back.

Despite the result and a run that has seen them lose two and draw one of their last four games, the Hornets climbed a place to fourth in a congested play-off fight with boss Dominic Di Paola satisfied with the performance.

He said: “In the first half we were a big sluggish and it was not the best football we have played, but we did have a couple of really good chances.

“Second half I thought we were excellent, as good as we have been since we beat Hythe. We battered them really, we just did not take our chances.

Horsham v Guernsey - Callum Stanton denies Chris Smith. Picture by John Lines

Horsham v Guernsey - Callum Stanton denies Chris Smith. Picture by John Lines

“We scored a bit of a lucky goal and I thought we got what we deserved, but at the end we committed too many forward and got done on the break.

“That was the most disappointing part as we have moved the ball well and played progressive football. It’s just annoying that we did not kill off the game. We had two or three really good chances and then at 1-0, we did not manage the situation.

“We did play well though, we were much better than against Haywards Heath and on another day we take our chances, it’s a comfortable result and people go away saying we played really well.”

Dean Lovegrove replaced the suspended Joe Shelley and Charlie Harris was back from illness in place of Kieran Lavery, who had returned to Dorking Wanderers.

Horsham v Guernsey - Charlie Harris in action. Picture by John Lines

Horsham v Guernsey - Charlie Harris in action. Picture by John Lines

After early chances at either end, the best chance saw Tyrell Richardson-Brown beat a slipping defender and pick out O’Toole, but his deflected shot fell to Chris Smith, whose miss-hit effort was saved.

On 28 minutes, Josh Pelling got a vital touch on a Canha shot to send it on to the left-hand post, then after sloppy defending at the other end, Harris shot over the bar.

Chances continued to be wasted, before a lucky let-off saw Steve Metcalf clear a Canha header off the line ten minutes before half-time.

Lovegrove and Jack Brivio both headed good chances over, before Guernsey chances saw Gauvain twice go close to beating Pelling.

Horsham v Guernsey - Jack Brivio goes close. Picture by John Lines

Horsham v Guernsey - Jack Brivio goes close. Picture by John Lines

Guernsey had a solid spell at the start of the second haf, before Richardson-Brown’s low cross was missed by goalkeeper Callum Stanton, but Smith somehow scooped over the bar from close range.

Plenty of other chances went begging before Pelling put in a brilliant reaction save to deny Paris Pereira’s first-time shot.

The Hornets finally led with 14 minutes to play as Metcalf fed substitute Lee Harding, he picked out Harris and his cross saw Stanton collide with a defender leaving O’Toole a tap in.

As Horsham were thwarted in their efforts for a second, the visitors levelled when Will Fazackerley crossed and Canha put in a diving header.

In four minutes of stoppage time, Harding hit the side netting and a curling Harris free-kick failed to find a touch it needed to grab a late winner.

Horsham: Pelling, Metcalf, Lovegrove, Merchant, Sparks, Richardson-Brown (McElligott 83), Brivio (Taylor 64), Harris, Hayward, Smith (Harding 72), O’Toole.