Horsham come from behind to beat Lewes
Before visiting Lewes, Horsham had won two games on the bounce and were seven places in the table above their East Sussex hosts, who, from six starts, had scored just eight goals, garnering just a single point from a solitary draw.
But, form is capricious and Lewes were in desperate need of a win, leaving Horsham well aware of banana skin potential.
And, eight minutes into the game, Lewes were 3-0 to the good, igniting fears of a most unwelcome defeat – only averted by a blistering Horsham second half team display.
Initially, the Horsham defence were caught napping, with the league positions looking to have been swapped.
Horsham, though, after their disastrous start, did manage to get onto the scoresheet courtesy of a fine solo effort by Matt Barnett. More chances followed, but these were not maximised, Horsham trailing 3-1 at the turn
On the resumption Barnett scored a second – from something of a mis-hit shot, miss-read by the Lewes keeper.
Then, Christ's Hospital student Alex Manuel levelled the scores, taking the ball right to left across the keeper and beating him with a great hard and low reverse stick shot.
Horsham were now in full swing and pressure brought a succession of short corners, one of which was converted, Sean Pearcy's flick giving them the lead, 3-4
However, Lewes were not yet done - and a fast counter wrong-footed the Horsham defence, making it four apiece.
With both sides striving for three points, the game swung end to end, Rich Hancock in the Horsham goal making some crucial saves – until, five minutes from the end, Richard Blakely reached out and got his stick onto a speculative long ball from player coach Andy Blood in the Lewes D, to deflect it past the keeper, putting Horsham 4-5 in front.
Lewes responded with full scale attack, and the final frantic minutes saw them awarded three short corners, all kept at bay by the Horsham back line.
Much relieved, Horsham are fifth, shaded on goal difference. On Saturday they return to Christ’s Hospital for an 11.30 push back against seventh-placed Sevenoaks 2s.
Matt Barnett will not be in the Horsham line up – he is off to Canada to trial for the Canadian national team, and will be sorely missed until his return in January
Meanwhile, Horsham ladies closed the first half of their season in English Hockey’s Womens’ Conference East in fifth position, with 2-1 win over Bromley & Beckenham, their first success since October 16.
Indoor hockey now beckons until the ladies restart outdoors with a visit to the Lee Valley Hockey Centre to play East London on February 5.