Horsham YMCA’s unbeaten league run was brought to an end at home to East Preston on Tuesday evening, as the title-chasing visitors narrowly edged a hard fought contest 1-0, writes Tom Norris.
After four wins and four draws, YM failed to extend their undefeated streak to nine games as a first half header from Preston’s Joe Shelley was eventually enough to seal all three points.
YM boss Peter Buckland said: “We can’t be too disappointed. East Preston are a good side who are high up in the league and have been together a lot longer than us.
“They are clearly a better footballing side and so they obviously had a lot of possession. But I said to the players that they can have that possession because they can’t score goals from the half way line.”
In a gritty game of very few clear cut chances, it was YM who created the better opportunities of the two sides during the opening quarter of an hour.
Leroy Hyett blasted over from the edge of the area, before Dan Sullivan’s low free kick crept just the wrong side of the visitors’ upright.
But it was Preston who opened the scoring midway through the first half, when a whipped Matt Axell corner found skipper Shelley who rose highest to head home from six yards.
The hosts should have levelled almost immediately, as Shaun Findlay burst down the left flank before squaring for Martin Smith, but his shot on goal was blocked by a retreating EP defender.
YM’s best chance of the fixture then fell to the in-form Hyett. From a YM breakaway Smith beat his full back and squared for the striker, but his first touch let him down with just the keeper to beat.
The second period produced even fewer chances than the first. Matt Crane headed well over from an early YM corner, before Hyett and Smith both had well struck efforts blocked on the goal line.
The visitors threatened on the counter, with goalscorer Shelley going close from a well struck free kick and substitute Sam Endiln seeing his ferocious strike well parried by YM stopper Paul Williams.
Buckland added: “Going on actual scrappy half chances, we probably had more. If the game was being edited for Match of the Day highlights, people would ask how we didn’t get anything out of it.
“There can be no excuses because we put in a good shift, but when I say we’re running on empty, I really mean it. Martin Smith, Leroy [Hyett] and Liam Hunter were all on really strong pain killers before the game, because they’re all carrying bad injuries.”
YM (4-4-2): P. Williams, Sullivan, O’Carroll, Crane, Evans, Findlay, Hunter (Wason 59), Dugdale, Curtis, Hyett (Lowe 77), Smith