Horsham YMCA moved joint top of the Southern Combination Premier Division on Tuesday night, after a Dan Sullivan hat-trick helped secure a thrilling 5-4 victory over East Preston at Gorings Mead.
Visitors’ front man Alfie Gritt, who also netted a hat-trick for his side on the night, broke the deadlock against the run of play after just seven minutes. YM responded immediately with two goals in quick succession from Liam Hunter and Sullivan, before Ryan Hallett’s swerving twenty-five yard strike restored parity to make it 2-2 at the break.
The home side flew out of the blocks after the restart as Sullivan restored YM’s lead after just forty seconds and Matt Crane then made it 4-2 with only eleven second half minutes played. Sullivan completed his hat-trick shortly after and the home side looked in command, but a resilient Preston mounted a compelling comeback and two quick fire goals from Gritt, the first from the penalty spot, ensured a nervous final twenty minutes for the hosts.
YM manager Peter Buckland commented: “That was hard work. I was really impressed with East Preston. I know they’ve played four games for no points, but they keep losing by the odd goal. They never laid down tonight. It goes 5-3, 5-4 and then you’ve got a nail biting last ten minutes. I imagine for the neutral that it was a cracking game to watch, but it’s not the sort of game as a manager that you can honestly say that you enjoyed. It is three points at the end of the day and the good start rolls on. It still reads that we’ve played four league games, won three and drawn one, so we’re unbeaten and of course we’ve got the FA Cup to come. We can go into Sunday now a bit more relaxed.”
YM Team: Lockwood, Carden (Doherty 78), Gathern, Crane, Evans, Hunter (Wright 57), Dugdale (Gedling 63), D. Sullivan, Hibbert, D. Brown, Schaaf. Unused subs: J. Brown, H. Horner.