Horsham YMCA ensured a top ten finish in Division One after ending their campaign with a 3-0 victory over St Francis Rangers at Gorings Mead on Bank Holiday Monday, Tom Norris writes.
A brace from Martin Smith and an own goal secured a comfortable three points, whilst also avenging YM’s two defeats to Rangers earlier this season.
The score line, though could easily have reached double figures, as the hosts spurned a plethora of chances in front of goal. YM manager Peter Buckland said: “I said to the players that if they (St Francis) beat us, they would finish above us in the league and so all of a sudden the game had a little bit of meaning.
YM made the perfect start as St Francis were caught flat footed in defence, and Smith volleyed home from the edge of the area after just sixteen seconds. Skipper Ashley Dugdale then hooked a volley just over, before a lightening break away involving Shaun Findlay and Smith, eventually saw Brad Curtis’s shot deflect wide. Smith then side footed straight at Rob Gordon in the Rangers’ goal, before blasting a second effort well over when well placed, as the wasted opportunities continued to mount. Brannon O‘Neill fired a rare visitors’ chance inches wide of the far post after some great work from front man Keiron Pamment, whilst Curtis sliced a shot wide when clean through for the hosts at the opposite end moments later. A frantic thirty seconds then saw Gordon twice deny YM from doubling their lead, as the Rangers stopper first tipped a Dugdale shot wide of the far post, before then parrying a low Smith effort to safety. YM saved their best attempts to extend their advantage until the final five minutes of the first half though. Smith glanced a Dan Sullivan corner just over and Findlay shot wide when clean through, before Smith drove another chance wide of the far post when one on one with the ‘keeper.
Smith finally found the net for the second time in the afternoon ten minutes after the restart, latching onto a clipped Sullivan free kick and firing into the far corner from just inside the box. But the squandering of chances then continued for the hosts as Liam Hunter twice delightfully fed Smith clean through, but the striker failed to find the target on both occasions. Russell Curtis, making his first team starting debut, then volleyed wide after some neat work from brother Brad, before YM eventually added a third when a St Francis defender volleyed into his own net from a whipped Sullivan free kick.
Still further chances came and went for the hosts as they settled for three and a top half finish in the table.