Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola praised a ‘professional performance’ as they climbed up to second in the Bostik League South East Division with a superb away win at Whitstable Town.
Two goals from Chris Smith - his first after just 15 seconds - and a Lee Harding strike gave the Hornets an impressive 3-0 win over in Kent.
It was a crucial three points in the play-off race as all of the other sides in the battle failed to win. In fact, all the teams down to Phoenix Sports down in tenth failed to pick up three points.
Hastings United slipped to third with a 2-1 defeat at an East Grinstead Town side who Horsham face on Tuesday night.
It took only fifteen seconds for Horsham to get in front, when Smith opened the scoring as he fired in from Kieran Lavery’s flick on, before Harding doubled Horsham’s lead mid-way through the first half.
A minute before the break defender Stuart West handled from Jack Brivio’s shot inside the box, and Smith stepped up to dispatch the resulting spot kick. Whitstable failed to threaten Horsham during the second half as The Hornets saw out the remainder of the game comfortably.
Di Paola said: “To be fair, it was probably not our most polished performance, but I was pleased that we managed the game and saw it out. I was impressed that we got the job done with a professional performance.
“In the second half we made the game dead, we had killed it and they lost interest, so I was very pleased with that.
“We have still got Cray, Ashford, Hythe and East Grinstead so of that tricky six weeks we were talking about, we still have three weeks left.
“The boys are all reacting well, they are a good bunch and we had a laugh on the coach coming back. It was a good day all round.
“I do not think it really matters about going second, it’s all about knocking games off and putting points on the board. It all sounds a bit corny and cliched, but it’s another one down and ten more to go now 11. There is still a quarter of the season to go, you think it is ending, but there are seven or eight weeks left to do.
In praising brace man Smith, Di Paola added: “If you look at his scoring record he has 16 goals in 23 starts, so he has done well.
“He is one of these boys that it’s life or death to be scoring, he is a typical number nine. It was good for him to get a couple and he could have had a hat-trick. Him and Lavery both played well. He probably had his best game for us as well.”
Horsham: Pelling, Metcalf (Kirkwood), Shelley, Merchant, Sparks, Harding, Brivio (Hogan), Hayward, O’Toole (Richardson-Brown), Lavery, Smith. Unused: Hyde, Hayward.