Horsham Hockey Club moved clear of South Premier Division 2 relegation trouble with a 3-1 victory at home to Eastbourne.
Every Horsham game played on Saturday started with a minute’s silence by both teams in honour of club president Hugh Thomas who had passed away on Thursday.
As such it was fitting that both Horsham men’s and lady’s first team triumphed at Christ’s Hospital.
Horsham were on the scoreboard within two minutes when a hopeful cross from the right got the defence at sixes and sevens and Zak Chinn forced the ball home from the ensuing melee.
With only 13 players due to injury and absence, and no substitute defender, Horsham knew they would be hard pushed against a well-drilled 15 men of Eastbourne.
The addition of Dom Male into the back-line was a plus, and keeper Joe Elgar made a series of fine saves as the visitors laid siege to his goal.
Ten minutes before half-time Jean Marshall relieved the pressure, doubling Horsham’s lead. Intercepting a loose Eastbourne pass he drove down the right, passed into the corner and then had the vision to continue his run to the back post where he picked up a loose ball and tapped in.
After the turn around, it was inevitable that tiring Horsham legs and continued Eastbourne pressure would take their toll, the visitors scoring following a short corner.
Once again Marshall, standing on the side-line at halfway waiting to be subbed on, changed the game when, following yet another Eastbourne short corner, Horsham sweeper Sean Pearcy threw his stick at the ball to clear his lines.
Travelling waist high and never intended as a pass, it was neatly trapped by Marshall stepping on to the pitch. Sprinting 40 yards he fed Zak Chinn who had raced to create a two or one and made no mistake in taking his second. The final ten minutes saw home defending of Rorke’s Drift proportions, but the third goal had taken the game beyond the visitors.
“It was a wonderful gutsy team performance,” manager Al Campbell said after the match. “It’s great that we took our chances and we have laid down a marker for when we meet Eastbourne in the Sussex Cup final in April.”