Johnson hat-trick helps extend Horsham YMCA’s lead at the top after Heath win

Phil Johnson netted a hat-trick for Horsham YMCA against Broadbridge Heath

A Phil Johnson hat-trick helped Horsham YMCA extend their lead at the top of the Premier Division at the expense of a depleted Broadbridge Heath.

The Gorings Mead outfit opened up a four-point lead over second-placed Haywards Heath, who have two games in hand, with the 4-0 derby success.

Johnson stole the show and Tom Gilbert also notched in a match that was postponed from December 27.

The Bears had hoped that having been down on numbers on the original date, they would have a few players back for the fixture, but were still missing top scorer Devon Fender, Stuart Chester, Alex Parsons, Jake Holmes, Tom Frankland, Tim Martin, Dan Sandell, Gicu Iordache and Rob Godfrey.

YM showed no mercy and almost scored with their first attack on two minutes when Johnson skipped past two defenders, but shot straight at Michael Chester.

At the other end, Shaun Findlay went close heading a Tom Bold corner narrowly wide of the left post, before YM took the lead on 15 minutes.

Johnson received the ball some 40 yards from goal and evaded a couple of challenges, before slipping the ball wide of an advancing Chester into the net. Deep into first-half injury, Johnson converted his 
second from close range, and despite the striker looked yards offside, but the assistant kept his flag down and said the ball had deflected off a defender.

YM went on to dominate play in the second period and the only surprise was they didn’t score more.

Tom Gilbert made it 3-0 on the hour with a free header from a corner and Johnson completed his hat-trick with 20 minutes remaining with a dipping shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Heath’s frustrations were made worse with Harry Balfour suffering an ankle injury and Scott Weller being carried off the field to add to a growing list of injuries ahead of Saturday’s game with Eastbourne Town, while YM travel to Eastbourne United.

Heath: M.Chester, Balfour (Griffin 35), Robinson, Findlay, Flack, Sim, Howard-Bold, Weller (D.Riecker 83), Cousins, Nezval (Morrone 55), Campbell.

Horsham YMCA: A.Jeal, Carden, Gilbert, Donaghey (Cave 75), Harding, Donaldson (C.Jeal 65), Gedling (Cooke 75), Dugdale, Evans, Johnson, Schaaf.

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