Football, by Harley Tamplin –
Trevor McCreadie’s header boosted Horsham’s hopes of avoiding relegation as the Hornets drew 1-1 at play-off chasing Crawley Down Gatwick.
Upbeat assistant manager Gary Charman said he believed the squad had more than enough to survive in Ryman League Division 1 South “without any problems” if they continued to play this way.
He told The District Post: “If you look at the squad we have now, that’s a top-six team. If we had this at the start of the league, we would be excited.
“All of a sudden we’ve got a good team. We’ve had to bring in some players and they have made a difference.
“I spoke to a few of the Crawley Down players and their management afterwards and they were pleased with a point.”
Horsham faced off against former manager and current Crawley Down boss John Maggs – who, before the match, was presented with an FA medal for 50 years of service to football in Sussex.
And it was Maggs’ side that made the perfect start. With just over a minute on the clock, Byron Napper slipped in Miles Mitchell and his pull back was emphatically converted by Down captain Fraser Logan.
Fresh from their first victory of the year against Whitstable, the visitors eased their way back into the game after a shaky start.
Ryan Marriott’s pass was cleverly dummied by the excellent McCreadie, giving strike partner Billy Dunn the time to shoot and force a low save from Tony Di Bernardo.
Down had a superb chance to double their lead midway through the first half when Luke Blewden sent Gabi Odunaike free, but Michael Hunter reacted quickly. It was the last time in the match that Horsham’s goalkeeper would need to make a save.
By contrast, Di Bernardo would be very busy. The Down keeper saved from McCreadie and was untroubled by Marriott’s free kick, but the equaliser was coming and it arrived in stylish fashion on 43 minutes.
Marriott’s cross-field ball found Tony Nwachukwu and the winger delivered a beautifully weighted cross which was matched by McCreadie’s firm header.
After the break, Horsham continued to create chances. Dunn struck a post after a bustling run into the penalty area and Marriott’s drive was pushed away by Di Bernardo moments later.
Horsham survived Down’s attempted fightback and created the game’s final chance in stoppage time. Substitute Jordan Clarke began a counter-attack and found Jamie Ampleford, but the youngster was denied by the impressive keeper at the near post.
Hornets boss Simon Colbran praised his goalscorer, but lamented his team’s sluggish start.
He said: “I think Trevor has got better and better. He is a very good player and a good finisher.
“When you’re away from home and playing against a team who are pushing for a play-off place, they are going to come at you at 100 miles per hour. But it (the start) was disappointing.”
Maggs dedicated his award to his family, admitting that “50 years has flown by”.
He added: “My wife and my children have been behind me 100 per cent, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. I am very honoured to pick up the award.”