Horsham 2, Dorking Wanderers 0: Kirkwood magic inspires Hornets to fine victory

Scott Kirkwood. Picture by David Marriott SUS-160908-075328001
Scott Kirkwood. Picture by David Marriott SUS-160908-075328001

A show-stopping free kick from Scott Kirkwood inspired Horsham to a fine victory over promotion chasing Dorking Wanderers this afternoon.

The midfielder curled home a great set-piece to break the deadlock at Gorings Mead after 62 minutes and then completed his brace to seal the points with a late penalty.

It saw the Hornets avenge an embarrassing 7-1 defeat to the Ryman League South Division title favourites earlier in the season.

The goal was exactly what the game needed after a poor hour of football as the hosts soaked up the pressure and defended resolutely.

Wanderers meanwhile had an off day and top-scorer Giuseppe Sole failed to impact the game, but they also found Horsham goalkeeper Josh Pelling in fine form to keep a second consecutive clean sheet.

Dorking came into the game having drawn 3-3 with Carshalton Athletic during the week and lost 4-3 to Herne Bay last Saturday.

Horsham v Guernsey - manager Dominic Di Paola 07-01-17. Steve Robards  Pic SR1637962 SUS-170701-173038001

Horsham v Guernsey - manager Dominic Di Paola 07-01-17. Steve Robards Pic SR1637962 SUS-170701-173038001

The Hornets meanwhile had a seven-day rest after last week’s home draw with Guernsey.

Tony Nwachukwu returned to the starting line-up after returning from holiday, while new signing Alfie Rogers, from Lewes, and the returning Jordan Clark were both on the bench.

Josh Pelling was the first keeper called into action as he was down to save Jake Beecroft’s low shot from the edge of the area after a good probing run from Matt Briggs.

Horsham’ first half opportunity came as Dorking goalkeeper Matt Willard missed a clearance and his second attempt was blocked by a chasing George Gaskin, but it fell nicely for the stopper, who then got the ball to safety.

Moments later, Willard tipped a Gaskin effort over as the striker turned and fired towards the top corner.

On 36 minutes, a dangerous ball ran across the Horsham box and Tom Summerfield took a touch, but his effort was blocked away by diving home bodies.

Pelling made a diving one-handed save to deny Jake Beecroft’s effort from just outside the box and then jumped up to block Dean Gunner, who looked favourite to tap home the follow-up.

Home supporters and the Horsham bench became increasingly frustrated with referee Dan Austin, who handed out three harsh yellow cards, making strange calls or not making simple decisions.

At the start of the second half a forward run from Matt Briggs saw him beat Lewis Hyde and force a block from the legs of Pelling, who was also alert to deny an effort from the resulting corner.

Kirkwood’s low free kick was well held by Willard, while Briggs found the side netting at the other end.

After a fairly dire hour of play it was a moment of beauty that gave Horsham the lead on 62 minutes. Kirkwood curled a superb effort into the far top corner from the left of the area with Willard stranded.

Soon after, Boswell had a golden chance to make it 2-0, but he managed to fluff his lines from close range when it looked like he was going to apply the finishing touch.

The visitors ramped up the pressure from then on in and Rob Sheridan’s teasing ball whistled across the face of goal and the back four had to block a number of efforts.

Horsham wasted a promising counter attack as Tom Lawley failed to read a Gaskin cut back, before Pelling produced a superb save to deny the visitors an equaliser.

A free kick lofted into the far post fell at the feet of Ben Dyett and he poked towards goal only for Pelling to push the ball up in the air and then push the falling ball clear on 83 minutes.

Horsham’s worries at seeing six added minutes despite only four substitutes being made and the trainer being on once were soon eased.

First, Dorking’s Dyett was shown a red card after a coming together with Branford which left the latter in a pile on the floor, before the linesman awarded the hosts a penalty for handball.

Kirkwood kept his nerve and sent Willard the wrong way to ease any home nerves of the three points in the added minutes.

Horsham: Pelling, Duncan, Jones, Hyde, Farmer, Lawley, Harris, Kirkwood, Boswell (Clark 79), Nwachukwu (Branford 58), Gaskin (Rogers 90), Unused subs: Sackman, Rogers, Gill.

Dorking Wanderers: Willard, Sheridan, Boulter, Dyett, Gunner, Beckles, Beecroft (Chendlik 79), Briggs, Summerfield (Oaks 67), McShane, Sole. Unused subs: Evans, Familton, Mahoney.

Attendance: 291.

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