Horsham were happy to take the positives despite their recent revival in South Premier Division 1 ending as they fell to a 2-0 defeat away to Oxford Hawks.
Manager Al Campbell’s view of the result was simple. “It was one of those games where they scored two goals and we didn’t,” he said.
“Although we probably played the better hockey, they took their chances and we missed ours.”
With senior players unavailable, the 170-mile round trip was always going to be something of a trial.
The overall team performance, against a side well in the upper half of the division, was a sterling effort, showing a strength in depth that puts a positive light on Horsham’s chances of staying in the division.
Skipper Andy Isaacs was on baby alert which gave England under-18 squad keeper Matt Upchurch his first start at this level. He showed great promise, in particular when three times shutting out Hawk’s short corner specialist who is the league’s current top scorer.
Vice-skipper Freddie Campbell was working abroad so defender Dan Humphrey’s took the armband and led by example.
Horsham’s midfield was further depleted by the absence of Sean Pearcy who has been such a positive influence since signing at Christmas.
Stepping back up from the second team, Rob Turnbull made a good impression filling the gap.
Other than a Hawks goal in either half, Horsham gave as good as they got but failed to find a way past an in-form home keeper who managed to get in the way of at least six on-target efforts, mostly from lead striker Ellis Wooley.
Campbell added: “The two goals we let in were a bit naïve, but with senior players away you’re always exposed to the odd schoolboy error.”
Horsham still sit just above the relegation zone and can now target three important games, two against teams below them, and one against the team one place above.
With fixtures and results in their favour, if the team can carry forward their current form when starting players return, they have a realistic chance of eighth position at the end of the season.