Horsham's blushes spared by Bracken hat-trick

With Atlantic Storm Arwen brewing, it was freezing at Christ’s Hospital last Saturday, and although, by their own admission, Horsham made somewhat heavy weather of it, they came away with another win – their fourth on the bounce - comfortably enough in the end, consolidating their fifth in the table position.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 3:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 3:02 pm
Harry Mariner in action for Horsham against Sevenoaks 2s. Pictures by Nick Evans

Horsham came with 13 players, which went down to 12 as Alex Manuel had to leave after half-time to play rugby for Christ's first XV!

Whereas, Sevenoaks arrived with 15 and, as their first team were not playing, they had some first team bench players in their squad, denting Horsham’s expectations, but, the result was a fair reflection of Horsham’s superiority.

Early Horsham pressure saw Sam Bracken force home a Richard Blakesly pass from a muffed short corner after nine minutes.

Horsham's Alex Manuel had to leave after half-time to play rugby for Christ's Hospital's first XV

And, Horsham should have had the game done and dusted within 20 minutes, after three easy chances went begging, which looked worrying when the visitors fought back to net from a short corner to leave the score level - 1-1 at half-time.

Alarm bells rang on the resumption, when, with Horsham under pressure, a defensive clearance went straight to an Oak's attacker, who slotted into the top corner giving Horsham keeper Rich Hancock little chance.

However, within 60 seconds it was 2-2, Bracken to the rescue with a virtuoso run into the D to beat the Oak's keeper from a narrow angle.

That great goal acted as a pick-me-up for the home side who switched to a high press for Bracken to force home again - from a goal mouth melee.

Freddie Campbell in action for Horsham against their Kent foes

Then, 10 minutes from time, Sam Bugler, who had been going through something of a dry spell after a sparkling start to the season, finally found the target, slapping a waist high ball home from three metres to give Horsham 4-2 victory.

A gap is starting to open up in the league, with five clubs on nine points or less. Horsham, fifth on goal difference with 18 points, can feel they have comfortably outperformed early worries that they might have struggled after being promoted two divisions following the restructuring of the England Hockey hierarchy

Next Saturday sees another big match, with Horsham visiting Blackheath & Elthamians, with whom they are on level points, despite the hosts winning a game less.

With Canterbury 2s playing unbeaten leaders Guildford, if the Surrey side win again – which they’ve done seven times from nine starts to date (scoring 36 goals and conceding just eight), then, with another win themselves, Horsham could go third.