Horsham 3, VCD Athletic 2: Back-to-back wins as Hornets edge victory in error-strewn encounter

Darren Boswell netted Horsham's winner in their 3-2 success over VCD Athletic. Picture by Steve Robards

An odd-goal in five saw Horsham edge an open an error-strewn clash with VCD Athletic at Culver Road this afternoon.

Just four places separated the two sides in the Bostik League South Division table at the start of the day, but goals from Tony Nwachukwu, Toby House and Darren Boswell saw the Hornets clinch a 3-2 lead at half-time - which is the way it remained.

Most of the goals were gifted to either side by mistakes and Boswell's eventual winner was the first time the Hornets had led in a lively 45 minutes.

VCD had twice been in front as new signing Warren Mfula took advantage of some questionable defending to net twice on his debut, having signed from Dartford on Friday.

But on the back of their excellent New Year's Day success over Lewes, Horsham fought back before the break and saw out the second half to make it back-to-back wins.

The home side made just one change from the previous game five days ago. Goalkeeper Josh Pelling, who rejoined the club on a month's loan from Dorking Wanderers on Friday, replaced the injured Brannon Daly.

The first chance went the way of the visitors on three minutes as a clipped cross into the middle had seen Mfula ghost in and glance a header straight at Pelling, immediately at the other end Charlie Harris flashed a volley just wide of the left-hand post.

Nwachukwu then eased through one-on-one, but his attempt to curl home went straight into the body of Joe Mant, who had raced off his line, and a golden chance went unpunished.

The visitors led on 15 minutes as Mfula played a neat one-two on the edge of the box with his strike partner Kemo Darboe and he finished low across goal into the far-right hand corner.

It took just five minutes for Horsham to level after Steve Metcalf was needlessly felled yards into the VCD half. Curtis Gayler's flighted free kick to the penalty spot saw both Joe Shelley and Mant rise and challenge for the ball. The visiting stopper failed to collect and Nwachukwu poked home the loose ball from inside the box.

The Hornets then gifted their visitors the lead again just four minutes later. A howler at the back saw Pelling, Shelley and Metcalf all on a different page and the latter rolled the ball back without looking, but with neither of his team-mates where he expected them to be, he played in Mfula, who had an uncontested finish.

Boswell almost leveled on the half hour mark as he cut inside from a Metcalf ball over the top and his angled shot forced Mant to make a one-handed punch away, but almost immediately at the other end, Pelling had to race off his line to deny Mfula his hat-trick.

Soon after, the scores were again all square as Nwachukwu collected a Jack Hartley’s pass, held the ball up in the box well and made his way to the byline to then pick out the unmarked House, and he finished via the inside of the left-hand post for his 13th goal of the season.

Finishing again let Nwachukwu down minutes before half-time as good work saw House keep the the ball in on the left and the ball was move to Metcalf and then squared to Nwachukwu, but he calmly shot straight at Mant.

The home side did snatch the lead a minute before the break. Nwachukwu atoned for his earlier misses with some great work to get to the byline and stood the ball up for Boswell at the far post, who finished well from a tricky angle.

At the start of the second half, Pelling blocked a El-Aymun El-Moyhalbel volley at the far post and then saved from Darboe, in between House latching onto a Harris header, but crossing straight at Mant.

A great opportunity for Horsham to gain a two-goal cushion went begging on the hour mark. A nice reverse pass from Boswell put Harris away, but his cross-come shot whistled across the goalmouth and a sliding Nwachwukwu, who was trying to turn home.

In a rare second half chance, Pelling made himself tall to block away El-Moyhalbel's effort from close range at the far post on 77 minutes. Hakeem Adelekun curled a free kick narrowly over the bar late on, while the Hornets played out a nervy few final minutes of ping ball to ensure the three points.

Horsham: Pelling, Hartley (Duncan 59), Farmer, Shelley, Metcalf, Gayler, Harris, Adelakun, Boswell (Bown 83), Nwachukwu (Street 62), House. Unused subs: Axell, MacDevitt.

VCD Athletic: Mant, Brown, Imudia, Baker (Sekhon 46) Awotwi, Adebayo (Kamara 69), Blackwood, Gordon, El-Moyhalbel, Darboe, Mfula. Unused subs: Martin, Gorbell, Ajeon.

Attendance: 163.

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