O'Toole double gives Horsham second Isthmian win in a week
Horsham came from behind to earn their second league win of the season, a 2-1 victory at Wingate & Finchley.
Despite Horsham remaining in control for long periods, the hosts took the lead courtesy of a wonder strike from Tommy Tejan-Sie from 20 yards out, but the lead lasted for just five minutes when Rob O’Toole bundled in from a corner. O’Toole then scored the deciding goal five minutes into the second half, poking into an empty net to earn Horsham a second maximum inside a week.
The win capped a week that Horsham fans needed, knocked out of the FA Cup last weekend, and seemingly unable to buy a win in the league, The Hornets campaign had barely got off the ground despite such high pre-season optimism with Dom Di Paola’s new look side.
Tuesday evening’s 5-2 win against Enfield had obviously tested the mettle of his squad, with the visitors showing a renewed sense of purpose and desire to win, despite finding themselves a goal behind somewhat against the run of play in North London. In fact, the only real downside to the afternoon for Horsham supporters would have been the performance of referee Joseph Grey, who booked eight players in total – five of whom from Horsham – in an unnecessarily strict if at least consistent display from the official.
The Hornets began brightly, playing the ball about well as Chris Smith rolled out wide towards JJ O’Sullivan, who crossed in towards the box, the header was cleared up into the air by a Wingate & Finchley defender, and dropped back down to Harvey Sparks, who blasted well over with a first time volley.
Reece Hall then went on a powerful run forward as the space opened in front of him, passing to Charlie Harris, but the midfield dynamo’s shot was drilled well wide.
Wingate and Finchley’s most dangerous play was coming from winger Suleiman Bakalandwa, who fired a dangerous effort that narrowly went over the top of goalkeeper Bradley House’s goal, while at the other end, Lewis Taylor failed to test home ‘keeper Myles Roberts when he collected in the middle, turned and shot from 25 yards, flashing his attempt over the bar.
Despite Horsham looking quite composed, Wingate & Finchley took the lead on 28 minutes through a moment of brilliance from Tommy Tejan-Sie, who collected in Horsham’s own half, strode forward a couple of yards, and blasted an unstoppable right footed piledriver that beat House for sheer ferocity.
Looking to hit back immediately, Horsham were denied by Roberts who clawed away from point blank with a fine reflex save to prevent Smith stabbing in from three yards in a scramble, and then three minutes later, Roberts produced another excellent save from Charlie Harris’ well struck free kick, seeing the flight of the ball late, and getting down low to push the shot out for a corner.
From the resulting corner however, Horsham drew level as O’Toole bundled in at the near post.
Horsham went looking for a second before half time, and had a good chance to find it when Ahmet Rifat conceded a freekick in Harris territory, but once again Roberts produced another brilliant save, diving to his right to palm it away, and immediately before the interval, another freekick for Horsham – this time outside the left side of the box – was fizzed across the face of goal by Harris, who slightly overcooked it as Tom Day arrived at the back post inches late to turn it in.
H/T: Wingate & Finchley 1 Horsham 1
The hosts took off the ineffective Billy Healey at half time to replace him with a bigger physical presence in the form of Duane Ofori-Archeampong as The Blues looked to exert themselves more on the game, but it proved futile as Horsham took the lead six minutes into the second half. Roberts’ decision to come off his line to attempt to clear a 50/50 ball against Smith proved costly as the Horsham forward just managed to prod the ball beyond him as the two players collided, with the ball appearing to head out of play.
Some fans and players thought that the referee would halt play given his performance up until that point, but O’Toole’s experience to play until the whistle secured what would be the winning goal, as he rushed in to prod into an open net.
Despite taking the lead and continuing to remain in control of the contest, the Hornets didn’t actually threaten the Blues goal again, which offered Wingate & Finchley plenty of hope to salvage something from the game.
With just over 20 minutes to go, Horsham conceded possession and were slow to get back to defend as Bakalandwu brought the ball forward on the wing and tried to cut inside, but former 2018/19 Joint Player of the Season Harvey Sparks – who was superb throughout – stood up against the Blues man and reduced him to a weak low effort that House gathered cleanly.
Wingate & Finchley then went close later on as Charlie Edwards’ deep cross was sent into the back post, but it was beyond the reach of Bakalandwu who couldn’t get up high enough to meet the ball.
Horsham had to endure a twitchy final few moments of the game when six minutes of added time was shown but the visiting side held out to lift themselves to 11th in the league table.