Horsham miss out on 12th-placed finish in frustrating final-day defeat

Scott Harris and Steve Metcalf
Scott Harris and Steve Metcalf

Horsham brought both the curtain down on their 2016/17 campaign and groundshare at Gorings Mead in frustrating fashion with a final-day 1-0 defeat to Hythe Town on Saturday.

Dean Grant’s 73rd-minute goal separated the two side and left the Hornets with a 16th-placed finish on their return to the Ryman League.

James Thurgar

James Thurgar

Three points would have seen Dominic Di Paola’s side cap a fantastic 12th-placed finish, but the manager again was left to rue the absence of a goalscorer.

With Tony Nwachukwu missing due to injury, Darren Boswell played in a make-shift striker role with Tom Lawley in behind him, but it proved an ineffective form of attack.

Di Paola said: “It was probably the difference. Neither team played particularly well and I do not think they were better than us, but in the final third they had a lad that could score a goal.

“In the first half, we had a few chances, but in the second half there was not a lot. Again, it is what it is.

Alfie Rogers

Alfie Rogers

“It was the last game, so it would have been nice to finish with a win and if we had won we would have finished 12th, so that was a right shame.

“I think it just shows what this league is like. It was ever so close in the midtable to bottom half.”

The home defence found it harder to keep striker Grant in check, with the lively number nine coming into the game on the back of scoring a hat-trick on Easter Monday at home to Chatham Town.

Horsham went closest on eight minutes as Lawley’s shot was headed clear by Ben Wilson with goalkeeper Joe Mant beaten. Soon after, Steve Metcalf’s header from a free kick was somehow tipped over by Mant.

Ash Jones and Josh Pelling

Ash Jones and Josh Pelling

At the other end, Craig Cloke volleyed over, before Scott Kirkwood dragged a Horsham effort wide.

Hornets stopper Josh Pelling then made a good save to deny Grant from Alex Mulrooney-Skinner’s cross with the striker scuffing his effort.

A minute before the break, Pelling denied Grant and Mulrooney-Skinner’s follow-up was crucially blocked and cleared by Alex Duncan.

In the second half, Boswell volleyed over the bar from an offside position, Lawley’s effort was charged down and Kirkwood’s low effort was saved by Mant on the goalline.

Adam Hunt then spurned a decent chance after Duncan’s cross was headed goalwards and over by the midfielder.

Hythe’s Dave Cook put a header wide of the post and Ash Jones blocked away a Sam Adams effort. But the visitors eventually took then lead with little over 15 minutes remaining.

Campbell’s through ball saw Grant beat the offside trap and roll the ball in the back of the net for the deciding goal.

On their final game, groundsharing at Gorings Mead ahead of going to Lancing next season, Di Paola added: “Not being in Horsham next year is a bit of a blow, I won’t lie. Although YM is not our home, you would like to be playing here as we have virtually always been in the town. It’s a bit of a shame as you do not really want to be changing things, but it is what it is and for the future.”

Horsham: Pelling, Metcalf, Jones, Hyde, Hunt (Farmer 80), Duncan, Kirkwood, Harris (Branford 83), Thurgar (Rogers 70), Lawley, Boswell. Unused: Knee.