Show stopper James helps Horsham spoil leaders Walton Casuals’ big day

Horsham FC. Josh James. Pic Steve Robards SR1720493 SUS-170829-111156001
Horsham FC. Josh James. Pic Steve Robards SR1720493 SUS-170829-111156001

An inspired showing by goalkeeper Josh James and late Rob O’Toole leveller helped Horsham spoil league leaders Walton Casuals’ big day on Saturday.

The Hornets stopper produced a string of fine saves, before, at the other end, the visitors completed a second-half smash and grab job to steal a late point.

It was a landmark afternoon for the Bostik League South Division leaders as after years of groundsharing - a life Horsham know all too well - they opened their brand-new £20million Elmbridge Sports Hub home.

The Stags actually went into the game on the back of two defeats and O’Toole’s goal, moments after a superb James save, ensured they failed to bounce back with a win.

Horsham boss Dominic Di Paola said: “In the second half, Josh made a couple of great saves to be fair. We knew he was a good keeper and I tried to sign him twice before, once at East Preston and then again when he was at Burgess Hill.

“He’s a good shot stopper and has good distribution. It has taken him a couple of games to get up to speed as he missed a bit of pre-season.

“We were the better side in the first half and they dominated the second, but we should have gone in at least level and possibly ahead at half-time.

“In the second half we were not at our best and lost our way. If we had maintained the performance from the first half, I would be saying I am disappointed to only come away with a point, but sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say we dug something out of a defeat.”

After just three minutes, Casuals’ Luke Holness flashed an effort over the bar, while Rob O’Toole put a header wide from Darren Budd’s corner at the other end. The Hornets then lost Adam Hunt to injury and he was replaced by Jack Hartley at full-back.

The hosts took the lead on 15 minute as from a corner, Isaac Sarpong found the net via a James touch as his effort from outside the area went through a crowd of players.

In reply, Scott Kirkwood’s free kick flew just wide, Darren Boswell’s chance was smothered and a Charlie Farmer header missed the target before the break.

It was very much the home side in control during the second half. They, however, found James in imperious form. Josh Kelly crashed against the base of the post and in quick success the Casuals man was then denied by James racing off his line and turned away Jack Battie’s shot.

James saved his best save of the match until last as the clock ticked down, McCormack slid in to meet a cross, but he was denied by a fine stop from close range.

That possibly spurred the Hornets on and they drew level a minute later as Boswell chased down a long ball and his cross to the back post was turned home by O’Toole.

Horsham: James, Hunt (Hartley 9), Farmer, Hyde, Metcalf, Waller (Oatway 45), Kirkwood, Budd, Boswell (Lawley 85), House, O’Toole. Unused: Breach, Thurgar.