Horsham showed they have the ability to win ‘ugly’ in the play-off race as they put their festive blip behind them to get back to winning ways against a ten-man Faversham Town on Saturday.
Early and late goals from Rob O’Toole and Jack Brivio saw the Hornets overcome the Kent strugglers despite a battling display from the hosts.
Their cause was not helped by having captain Harry Goodger sent off in first-half stoppage time for a bad lunge on Charlie Harris.
With only four points from their previous four games, three points were much welcome for Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola as his side consolidated fourth in the play-off places.
He said: “I was over the moon with the win to be honest. I do not think we have won many ugly games and we really battled.
“They were game and relatively direct to put it on us, but apart from an early lob when they could have scored early on, I don’t recall Pells (Josh Pelling) having much to do. It was a good win as it’s a hard place to go in Kent and they use the sloped in the first half.
“I thought we showed a different side to ourselves. You can’t always win pretty and we have won a lot of pretty games, so it was nice to see us win one of the ugly ones. And it was a good performance considering we are a bit low on numbers.”
An early Ashley Miller lob caught out Pelling, but just dropped wide, before Horsham took the lead after just three minutes. A move involving George Hayward and Chris Smith saw the latter set-up O’Toole to slot past Will Godmon.
Faversham responded with a couple of decent free kicks, before Smith put wide from close range after Charlie Harris’ set-pice fell kindly for him on 20 minutes.
A flare-up between Hayward and Jamie Maxted followed after a strong challenge from the former and sparked an undertone which would continue.
Smith forced a save from Godmon, while Ryan Huckle went close to equalising but headed a corner just wide. Goodger was then shown a red card by referee Rhys Battye and with the home side reeling, Harding almost doubled the lead with a curling effort onto the post.
Playing down the slope in the second half, O’Toole and Smith went close early on, before a poor half-hour spell followed where a number of niggly off-the-ball incidents were more prominent than the football.
A much frustrated traveling support, mainly due to what they felt was an inconsistent display from the officials, was sent into raptures with a three minutes to play.
Harris’ inch-perfect ball for Brivio was controlled and dispatched past Godmon to seal the points and put them level on points with Whyteleafe, who visit Culver Road on Saturday.
Horsham: Pelling, Metcalf, Lovegrove, Merchant, Sparks, Harding (McEligott 89), Harris, Brivio, Hayward (Shelley 77), Smith, O’Toole (Taylor 75).