Horsham have optimism in defeat, but feel they need a ‘miracle’

Hockey South Premier Division 1: Horsham v Old Cranleighans. team manager Al Campbell. Pic Steve Robards SR1704396 SUS-170603-123024001
Hockey South Premier Division 1: Horsham v Old Cranleighans. team manager Al Campbell. Pic Steve Robards SR1704396 SUS-170603-123024001

A positive second-half showing has given Horsham cause for optimism in their battle for survival in South Premier Division 1 - but conceded they need a ‘miracle.’

The 4-1 scoreline in the favour of second-place hosts Old Cranleighans obviously had no effect on the visitors’ desperate bid for points.

Two adrift at the foot of the table and with just one win all season, the writing could well by on the wall for Horsham, but they have been lifted by a spirited second period against a side chasing the title.

If ever a hockey match was a game of two halves this was it.

Horsham were one down within the first minute and, having been blitzed by a well-drilled home side, found themselves four adrift at half-time.

Manager Al Campbell said: “It was as if somebody had flicked a switch – suddenly we were comfortably on top, and won the second half 1-0 on merit.”

In-form teams like Cranleighans make their own luck.

They also make the best of their home pitch – a surface deader than Monty Python’s celebrated Norwegian Parrot.

The entire playing area is due to be ripped up and re-laid over the summer break, something visiting teams will look forward to.

Horsham currently have the second-poorest defensive record in the division – a statistic that would be worse but for regular heroics in goal by coach Andy Isaacs.

With a highly-aggressive press, the home side quickly had the visitors on the back foot, continually overloading the right flank.

Horsham had their share of the play, getting forward well, but marked poorly and further Cranleighans goals ensued.

At the break, Isaacs told the team to play with the attitude that the result was of no consequence, but to enjoy themselves and play ‘festival hockey’.

Whatever the players took out of his words, Horsham started the second half in a much more aggressive and upbeat fashion, regularly finding their way into the opposition D.

Goals were hard to come by but five minutes from time goal-a-game Barney Knights-Johnson broke through and scored with his trademark reverse stick strike.

Campbell said; “Well we’ve finally won a 35-minute half.

“Realistically we need at least three wins from the remaining eight games, and hope Henley fall by the wayside, to have any chance of staying up.

“But, if we can maintain today’s second-half form for a whole 70 minutes, miracles might just happen.”

Horsham host midtable Winchester on Saturday.

A side that have recorded three wins from their 14 outings this season, but have lost only four, having had seven drawn matches.