Horsham 1-1 Walton and Hersham: Late goal earns Hornets point

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Substitute Jack Page gifted Horsham an early Christmas present with an acrobatic last-minute volley that earned the Hornets a point against Walton and Hersham.

The visitors’ stingy performance at Gorings Mead lacked seasonal spirit, but after leading for much of the match, they were reduced to ten men when striker Andrew Mensah lashed out at Ryan Woodford with 20 minutes to play.

A nearby firework display in the second half still threatened to provide more drama than the home side, but Page’s late heroics supplied the fireworks on the pitch to save Horsham from defeat.

The hosts started confidently and claimed they had scored when Anthony Storey’s corner drifted towards goal and was fumbled by Walton goalkeeper Gary Ross, though the officials ruled the ball had not crossed the line.

After 14 minutes, Walton were in front. The Horsham defence was caught out by a long ball, Gareth Chendlik racing on to the pass and poking past the advancing Gareth Williams.

The early goal seemed to spur the away side on. Mensah outmuscled Lewis Hamilton and forced a good stop from Williams.

Soon after, Horsham’s custodian needed to be at his agile and alert best to stop a superb long range drive from Jack Battie.

The Hornets were losing the midfield battle and were forced to send on Byron Napper to replace livewire youngster Harry Smith after just half an hour.

And the extra man in the middle appeared to be paying dividends as the hosts improved after the break.

A Napper through ball released Tony Nwachukwu whose left footed effort was saved, and after Walton failed to clear the resulting corner, Nwachukwu’s shot beat Ross but cannoned back off the post.

The game’s most controversial moment arrived on 73 minutes when Mensah, arguably the game’s best player, appeared to strike Woodford after he was fouled and received a straight red card.

Even with the man advantage Horsham looked to be heading towards defeat, until a hopeful ball was clipped into the visitors’ penalty area in the 95th minute.

The pass was flicked on by Napper and Page, with his back to goal, did the rest with a sublime finish that looped into the corner of the net.

Horsham: Williams, Hamilton, King, Storey, Gilbert, Woodford, Nwachukwu, Morley, Miller, Ampleford (Page 76), Smith (Napper 31).