Horsham squeak a thriller to go through in FA Cup

Pic credit: John Lines

Martin Read – Sports Reporter

Saturday September 7 – FA Cup First Qualifying Round  

Metropolitan Police 1   1 Horsham

Replay – Tuesday September 10 – Horsham 3  2 Met Police                

Horsham bounced back from a disappointing draw at East Molesey with a dramatic last gasp win in Tuesday’s replay, with 445 spectators in attendance despite the England match.

Manager Dom di Paola felt that the rematch should have been unnecessary after Horsham had dominated the majority of Saturday’s game, led at the break, but then conceded an equaliser without being able to regain the lead even though the Met played the last quarter with a man down.

On Saturday, the Met put Horsham under the cosh in the opening minutes, but Olli Robinson’s header was off target, then Jack Mazzone hit the Hornets’ crossbar. But, Horsham went ahead when Zack Newton escaped to supply Chris Smith, who banged it home. Four minutes later Smith got the ball in the net again, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag. He continued tormenting but could not quite connect, the first half ending 1-0 in Horsham’s favour after Hornets’ keeper George Bentley was tested.

Resuming, Horsham immediately created pressure, but Smith’s shot evaded the goal, before he combined unsuccessfully with Charlie Harris. Bentley then saved, but Knight soon equalised with an airborne header. After Jordi Nzodid was sent off for serial offending, both sides had near misses, the game ending 1-1.

Tuesday’s replay was a proper cup tie – fast and exciting with an abundance of opportunities – an appropriate first FA Cup game for The Camping World Community Stadium. Horsham started quietly and had early scares when a free kick crashed into the upright, followed by a Met corner, and a saved header. Then, after 9 minutes, unmarked Bilal Sayoud unleashed a superb blast and Horsham were one down. But, they were getting more possession and mounting attacks, Charlie Harris, Harvey Sparks, Chris Smith and Joe Shelley all keeping the Met on their toes. Bentley was called upon, but Horsham were in control and it was no surprise when they levelled the score, Sparks breaking down the left for a well hit goal from a tight angle just before the break.

Restarting, the Met had a free kick, but action switched to the other end, Zack Newton racing through for a pinpoint cross to Smith, who gave Horsham the lead. Next, Met sub Rhys King missed from point blank range, but, with the visitors getting more of the ball, Luke Robinson had enough space to unleash an excellent strike, restoring parity with just 9 minutes of normal time remaining. Horsham had a corner, yet the Met were calling the shots, Hani Benchiche heading just over. The Hornets, though, were not done, Kieron Pamment celebrating his return with a cross for Smith to scramble in for a 3-2 lead in the 90th minute. The Met had another corner and Mazzone rattled the crossbar with a top strike, but Horsham had pinched the game, CEO John Lines telling the District Post: “I’m absolutely thrilled! We’re rewarded with a home tie with Dartford (on Saturday 21st) and I’m sure they’ll bring a good crowd. We went a bit flat in the second half, but came back brilliantly!”

This Saturday the Hornets return to league action with a visit to the Essex coast to play Brightlingsea Regent.

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