HORSHAM YMCA’s impressive recent away form continued as Sammy Donnelly’s side sunk third-placed Peacehaven and Telscombe despite a belated comeback from the hosts.
Peacehaven dominated a relatively quiet first 45 minutes, before Dean Wright gave YM an unexpected lead three minutes before half-time.
The visitors improved in what was a fiercely contested second period, poorly controlled by referee Kevin Belcher. They doubled their lead midway through the half, Wright notching his second of the game, before The Tye responded, pulling a goal back eight minutes from time.
The hosts then looked certain to equalise, piling pressure on the YM defence, but Donnelly’s men held strong, seeing out a simply ludicrous ten minutes of injury time to secure their fourth away league win on the bounce.
“I was very disappointed with the referee,” remarked YM boss Donnelly. “I thought we played well against twelve men today, at a difficult place and against a team who are third in the league.
“But like I keep telling the lads, they’ve got it in their locker – they can do it. We passed the ball around better today even though we changed the formation to a more 4-4-2 rather than a 3-4-3. We defended from the front; George Hillier and Dean [Wright] were tremendous, but once again it was a team effort.”
Justin Gregory returned for YM at full-back for the first time since his dismissal in their pre-season friendly against tenants Horsham, whilst Matt Crane, Nick Sullivan and Tom Stillwell were all missing.
YM created very little in the opening exchanges of the first half, the visitors controlling possession in the middle of the park.
Peacehaven’s Wes Millis and full-back Matt Hill combined well down the left, the former eventually crossing for midfielder Dunk, who fired wide from the edge of the area.
Wright had a valid penalty shout turned down, before Lee Wood cut in from the left to lash a shot just wide, in what were two rare YM chances.
Dunk continued to dominate the midfield proceedings for the hosts, his corner finally falling at the far post for Matt Fleming, whose curled effort was deflected wide of the far post for The Tye’s best chance.
And they were made to rue their earlier missed chances, as YM took full advantage of some poor Peacehaven defending to take an admittedly undeserved lead into half-time.
The ball was given away by the hosts in the middle of the park and YM capitalised, Wood working it to Hillier, whose delightful through ball was quickly latched on to by Wright and tucked away with aplomb.
The second 45 minutes was a much livelier affair, but it was YM who doubled their lead with the first real clear-cut chance of the half. A mishit Simon Lockwood goalkick somehow skidded through to Wood down the YM left, before the speedy winger cut inside, skipping away from his man, and released an expertly clipped through ball for Wright to run onto and coolly stab over the onrushing ‘keeper.
And as Donnelly’s men started to dictate the play, they created chances that could have easily killed the game off. Hillier first saw a blistering effort tipped over by Jake Buss in the Peacehaven goal, before winger Timmy Martin’s fine run resulted in a blocked cross-come-shot off the hosts’ goal line.
At the other end, Rob O’Toole drilled a dangerous ball across the YM box, before The Tye finally pulled a goal back after a persistent build up of pressure. Lockwood came and apprehensively punched at a lofted Peacehaven free kick, the ball falling back to Dunk on the edge of the box, whose sweetly struck half volley found its way through a crowded penalty area and into an unguarded net.
YM had a second chance to put the game beyond their opponents, a long ball forward from the impressive Liam Hunter freed Wright for YM, who sped to the by-line, beating his man with ease. He cut back and whipped in a perfect cross, only for Hillier to miss his header and Wood to canon his shot straight at the ‘keeper from six yards.
Heading into a bizarre ten minutes of injury time, the visitors’ were put under increasing pressure from the hosts, but a fine defensive display, particularly from centre-back Jahmal King, secured the win and all three points to hand YM their seventh win of the campaign.
YM (4-3-1-2): Lockwood, Sullivan, King, Dugdale (c), Gregory, Wood, Smith, Hunter, Martin, Hillier, Wright, Unused: Scally, Graham, Hawthorne, Curtis, G. Donnelly