Hockey, by Martin Read –
Horsham are closing in on the Kent and Sussex Division 1 title.
They hit top form with a stunning 5-1 demolition of Tunbridge Wells, the only side to have beaten them this season, enthralling the biggest crowd of the season to move eight points clear at the top, with a game in hand and a far superior goal difference.
Ecstatic captain Duncan Howarth told The District Post: “Wow! This was such a contrast from last week (when Horsham scored a last-minute winner against Kings and Alleyns) – nobody put a foot wrong and we played with such composure.
“Our young players are really fit and they’ve developed into fast, confident performers, really believing in themselves.
“Playing like that against such a strong side is very satisfying and speaks volumes for our ability to step up and win these big games.”
Team manager Al Campbell added: “Our old slickness was back with a vengeance. We were a little rusty in our last two games and were a bit fortunate last week, but we don’t need any luck when we play as well as we did in this game. The title is ours to lose now.”
Experienced campaigner John Burroughs said: “We were totally focused on what we needed to do and we played the best hockey I’ve seen at the club.”
Horsham took the lead after just six minutes when Howarth converted after a probing run by Burroughs.
Two short corners were cleared off the line as Horsham dominated, but the visitors’ determination was rewarded when they equalised with a clean strike into the top corner.
Horsham responded immediately, regaining the lead through a Paddy Humphreys penalty just before the interval.
Another run by Burroughs enabled John Kimberley to score shortly after the restart and Horsham went further ahead 10 minutes later when Howarth netted again.
Although Tunbridge Wells hit a post and saw a shot cleared off the line by Mark Vivian, Horsham were rampant going forward and Jack Dean completed the scoring.
This was an excellent all-round team performance with pinpoint passing and rapid build-ups, as teenagers Dean, Kimberley and Toby Fraser dovetailed well with the more experienced players.
Goalkeeper Ed Heathcock was again outstanding and Horsham’s rock solid defence has conceded only 14 goals in 15 games.
Player-coach Dominick Male told The District Post: “We trained hard and I asked for a controlled, disciplined performance, which is what I got.”
Pete Turner, Male’s opposite number at Tunbridge Wells, admitted the result was well deserved and told Horsham: “You’re the top side in the league and your whole team played well.”
Sixth-placed Horsham Ladies picked up a vital 1-0 win at bottom side Bromley and Beckenham, thanks to Tiff Musgrave’s goal.
Team manager Zeph Hardy said: “It wasn’t a pretty game. Bromley had 18 short corners, but somehow we managed to hang on and keep them at bay.”
On Saturday, Horsham’s men host pointless Herne Bay (3pm). The ladies visit second-placed Sevenoaks on Saturday and face Southwick in the Sussex Cup quarter-final at Broadbridge Heath on Sunday.
Pick up your free copy of The District Post on Friday for more of Clare Turnbull’s photos from the men’s win against Tunbridge Wells.