A stoppage-time equaliser from Dave Brown salvaged Horsham YMCA a point away at Lancing in Division 1 action at Culver Road on Saturday afternoon.
The midfielder’s 93rd-minute strike cancelled out Mike Williamson’s opener for the Lancers early in the first period, and left the resilient hosts feeling harshly done by.
Peter Buckland’s side were poor throughout the entire ninety minutes, but an improved final quarter of the game, albeit without creating a great deal in front of goal, made the late equaliser somewhat deserved.
The YM boss commented: “We only made one change from last Saturday and so you would have thought that we would just have had the continuity from that. But it just wasn’t the case.
“We started 4-2-3-1 in the first half and it clearly didn’t work. Lancing basically had ten men behind the ball and defended really well, but then they were going for us on the break, which they also did well.
“In the second half we went 4-4-2 and pushed Hibbs (Anthony Hibbert) up top with Nick (Sullivan), but that isn’t really his game, so with Ash (Dugdale) struggling a bit we dropped Hibbs back into his more comfortable midfield role and pushed Sam Schaaf up front and it started to happen.
“I think in the last 25 minutes we were the better team and definitely deserved something from the game for our second half performance.”
Lancing started the fixture well and after an early Lewis Finney shot flashed just the wrong side of the far upright, minutes later a wonderfully worked team goal opened the scoring.
Full-back Jake Mills broke forward down the right and after intelligently finding Owen Callaghan infield, the Lancing playmaker fed youngster Williamson, who glided into the box before firing into the far corner.
The Lancers could have doubled their lead just four minutes later when Alex Fair evaded both the offside trap and a flat footed YM defence, but after cutting back onto his left foot in the box, visitors’ goalkeeper Simon Lockwood saved the striker’s shot well with his legs.
Incredibly we could have come away with a 2-1 victory at the end, which would have been harsh on Lancing because they worked their socks off.Peter Buckland
Stray passes littered YM’s play, whilst a lack of composure in the final third was evident on numerous occasions during the first forty five. Buckland’s side did finally break through a resilient Lancing defence as the half drew to a close, Hibbert striking well wide of the far post after a neat one-two with front man Sullivan, before the latter picked up a dinked Dave Brown pass in the box four minutes later, but saw his volleyed effort well parried by home stopper Callum Fidler.
As the half wore on the visitors did look the more likely to score, turning possession into pressure on goal. The once more impressive Luc Doherty marauded forwards but failed to pull the trigger when well placed and instead laid Dan Sullivan, who in turn fed Hibbert, and his low drive from the edge of the area was tipped round the post by Fidler.
Lancing winger Williamson should have doubled his tally for the afternoon midway through the half when he met a Guy Church cross with a free header at the far post, but YM ‘keeper Lockwood was again well placed to thwart the danger.
As the game reached its climax, the Lancers looked as if they would hold on to claim all three points, but three minutes into added time, YM found an equaliser.
Nick Sullivan raced onto a perfectly weighted through ball inside the left edge of the area and after his low shot across goal was parried by Fidler, Brown followed up to slide in and stab home from close range.
Buckland concluded: “Incredibly we could have come away with a 2-1 victory at the end, which would have been harsh on Lancing because they worked their socks off. They are an average sort of team, and their league position reflects that, but they worked a lot harder than we did today for the majority of the game.
“Already I’m thinking about formation and personnel for Tuesday night, but I think we just keep on coming back to 4-4-2. Unless we’re playing a quality side, like when we played Lewes or Erith (& Belvedere), whereby you can play five across the middle for obvious reasons, then I think we’ve just got to go for it.
“We look forward to some good games coming up now against Pagham, Littlehampton, Dorking Wanderers and Eastbourne Town. They’re the ones I’m really looking forward to, and I know, ridiculously, that we’ll be better against those teams than we were today.
“When the players go across that line, even if there’s nothing to play for, they still give it their all and I don’t think complacency is a word that you can use. They go out there and they want to do it. I’ll have them geed up for the run in now.”
Horsham YMCA: Lockwood, Carden, O’Carroll, (Gathern 73), Doherty, Evans, Dugdale (Schaaf 66), Gedling, D.Sullivan (T.Smith 75), Hibbert, D.Brown, N.Sullivan. Unused Subs: Crane, J.Brown.