Horsham’s dead rubber match with second place Banbury served up some tremendous hockey at Broadbridge Heath on Saturday.
Despite the third-placed hosts having nothing to play for as the two promotion places above them unreachable, the end result saw their Oxfordshire-based side leapfrog Henley to move up as champions.
We will finish on 48 points which in nine out of 10 seasons would be enough to move up – now though we must look forward to next season.Al Campbell
Once again Horsham started the game missing key players but set out with an experimental one-on-one man-marking press.
The new system immediately caused problems for the opposition and created three excellent chances, none of which was converted.
However, for the first time in a number of games Horsham were first on the score-sheet as Dave Leadbitter converted a short corner.
The teams turned around at half-time with Horsham in the lead but Banbury soon equalised from a short corner due to soft defending.
Horsham were then left to bemoan a number of umpiring decisions that went against them as they have a number of times this season.
The home side were denied a stonewall penalty and as Banbury cleared the ensuing short corner, they swept down field and the division’s top scorer Harry Loxton, struck a brilliant reverse stick shot past Neil Burlinson into the top right-hand corner.
Horsham kept up the pressure but unwarranted yellow cards saw men sin-binned and, at the death, Loxton scored a third.
Horsham team manager Al Campbell said: “We were only playing for bragging rights, so the result didn’t really matter.
“Both teams played some tremendous hockey, Banbury go up as worthy winners and we wish them well.
“We will finish on 48 points which in nine out of 10 seasons would be enough to move up – now though we must look forward to next season.’
Horsham have one more game to play away to Ashford on April 11.