Tuesday February 10 – Ryman League Division One South
Merstham 2 – 1 Horsham
As with the Chipstead defeat four days earlier, Horsham can consider that they were again unfortunate to not come away with something from this difficult fixture against promotion chasing Merstham. However come away with nothing is what they did and one point from the last four games is the sort of form that will condemn the Hornets to relegation.
To compound things fellow relegation strugglers Redhill beat South Park 3-2, a result that dumps Horsham back to the foot of the league table.
It was however another game where the officials played a part in Horsham’s downfall with referee Daniel Berry somehow finding five minutes of stoppage time from a half where neither physio had been called into action. Inevitably with the way things are going for the Hornets Merstham hit the winner deep into those five added minutes to break the hearts of the travelling support, players and staff.
The Hornets were without Richie Byrne, Joe Obersteller and Ehis Izokun started and there was a place on the bench for the returning Mark Zawadski.
In a fairly even first half Tony Nwachukwu had a header saved from an offside position and Tom Hughes headed just wide. Merstham however looked the more comfortable on the ball as would be expected from a team in their lofty league position.
With the game looking to go into the break goalless Merstham captain Tommy Hutchings effort from the edge of the area just before the half time whistle went passed the previously untroubled Hornets keeper Williams to give his side the lead and to deal Horsham a body blow.
Bailo Camara came on for McCreadie in the second half and the game continued to be an evenly matched contest with neither keeper having to produce miracles.
Then on 67 minutes Camara met an Nwachukwu cross and sent his glancing header passed Merstham keeper Brannan Daly to give the Hornets a deserved equaliser.
Horsham received a further boost on 80 minutes when Merstham’s Aaron Rhule was shown a red card leaving his side a man down for the ten remaining minutes of normal time and the incredible five minutes Mr Berry saw fit to add.
Horsham would have been applauding the referee’s decision of added time if Richie Welch had scored from the good chance he had to win it deep into the five minutes. But as so often of late they were left to feel hard done by when from the Welch chance Merstham broke away and scored, taking all three points and dealing Horsham another defeat.
To be honest not many would have expected Horsham to get anything at Merstham but the nature of the defeat and the decent performance the Hornets put in made this latest ‘nil points’ difficult to take.
Tomorrow (Saturday 14) Horsham take the flight to Guernsey for a 1.00pm kick off. Another difficult fixture, but for a team sitting bottom of the league they are all difficult. Once again points will need to be grabbed from the Channel Islanders, and most of the remaining opponents, if ‘The Great Escape’ is to be realised.
Horsham Team: Williams, Berry, Obersteller, Welch, Hughes, Page, Branford, Vickers, McCreadie, Nwachukwu, Izokun.
Photo – John Lines