Horsham mathematically safe with Leatherhead win

On target. Tony Nwachukwu scored the only goal from the penalty spot
On target. Tony Nwachukwu scored the only goal from the penalty spot

Horsham guaranteed Ryman football for next season with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Leatherhead which continues their excellent recent run.

Needing just a single point to secure their safety, Tony Nwachukwu’s penalty secured all three and the Tanners finished their frustrating afternoon with ten men.

The Hornets weren’t at their creative best, but deserved the win for another excellent defensive display led by skipper Gary Charman.

Injury to Jahmahl King saw him replaced at the heart of defence by Matt Simpson in Horsham’s one change from the 4-1 Chipstead win in mid-week.

The visitors - who came into the game still chasing a play-off spot - saw a couple of half chances come and go within the first five minutes.

Seb Schoburgh ghosted into the box to meet a cross from the right but guided his volley wide and then Tom Bradbrook beat Michael Hunter to a ball over the top but cannoned his shot back off the Horsham goalkeeper’s shins.

Charman then did just enough with a lunging last-ditch tackle to put off Bradbrook and the Tanners striker then shot wide after being play in on goal.

Mark Simmons slammed an effort into the side netting before Bradbrook glanced a free kick just wide with his head.

Despite Leatherhead enjoying the better chances, hosts Horsham were stringing together spells of good passing without really finding a cutting edge.

Ray Freeman shot straight at visiting keeper Matt Reed from an angle before they went ahead against the run of play mid-way through the half.

Trevor McCreadie’s shot deflected kindly into the path of Freeman and he was felled by Schoburgh inside the box. Nwachukwu stepped up to calmly roll the ball low into the net to put Horsham ahead.

Still the visitors continued to create the clearer openings before the break. Their best saw Bradbrook beat Matt Simpson to bear down on goal, but the Horsham defender recovered to apply the pressure as the Tanners forward shot straight at Hunter.

Kev Terry was brought on for Leatherhead at half time and his first contribution was to so nearly grab an equaliser, but Hunter got fingertips onto his drive from the right and the ball luckily came back off the inside of the post to drop into his grateful arms.

McCreadie came close to getting onto the end of Freeman’s deep cross from the left but the hosts continued to struggle to get things going in the final third.

It was though a different story at the back, as Horsham’s defenders continued to throw themselves into tackles to largely blunt a decent Tanners attack.

Leading from the front was Charman, and he made a vital challenge in the box to prevent Terry either shooting or picking out one of two unmarked team-mates.

The Hornets’ best attacking outlet came from Nwachukwu’s darts down the right wing, and he nearly picked out Freeman at the near post but a defender just got across to head behind.

Leatherhead were then reduced to ten when Hutchings was shown a straight red for abusive language, and a few minutes later manager ?? was send to the stands for continuing his protests.

With the man advantage the Hornets comfortably saw out the final ten minutes, and could have added to their tally when the excellent Nwachukwu crossed for McCreadie, who sliced wide at the back post with the angle against him.

That’s now 14 points from a possible 21 in the last seven games meaning Horsham can take on Hythe (Wednesday) and the Maidstone on the final Saturday looking to finish as high up the table as possible.

Horsham (4-4-2): Hunter; Brockhurst, Farmer, Simpson, Charman; Nwachukwu, Marriott, Harris, Akehurst; Freeman, McCreadie.