Sussex Cup holders Horsham made the long trek to Eastbourne, for an 8pm push back on Tuesday evening, to start their defence of the trophy they have won for the last two seasons.
They drove home happy, having notched up their first win in 11 games with a 2-1 success. Eastbourne are flying high at the top of Kent/Sussex Division 1, five points clear and with a positive goal difference of 35.
Horsham whereas have been struggling at the bottom of the table two divisions higher, and came with a depleted squad, several senior players unavailable due to work commitments.
However, their class shone through and they ended up winning more comfortably than the score suggests.
Eastbourne started brightly but initially failed to break down the visitors’ defence. Horsham gained the ascendency, but it was the home side who scored first with an opportunistic break-away and a fine finish that gave goalkeeper Andy Isaacs little chance.
The teams turned around at 1-0 but Horsham had control of the play. After a couple of short corners and a disallowed goal, Horsham opened their account courtesy of a Sam Gill strike from the top of the D ten minutes into the half.
Top-scorer Barney Knights-Johnson then kept up his run of form, finishing from close range with nine minutes remaining.
With the tie won, manager Al Campbell made the call to ask his team to shut-up shop and close the game out. “The boys desperately needed a confidence booster,” he said.
“There was much to like about the way they managed themselves.
“In the first half of the league season they lost several games when in front, but tonight they played patient and persistent hockey to come from behind, take the lead, and prove to themselves that parking-the-bus can bring rewards.”
This weekend the league starts in earnest, Horsham travelling to Indian Gymkhana on Saturday then making the trek down the M40 on Sunday for a rearranged fixture against Oxford.
The cup now takes a rest until April 7 when Horsham face Crawley.