Four-goal Wooley comes back to haunt Horsham

Hockey – Worthing 5 – 3 Horsham Men’s 1st XI 

Martin Read – Sports Reporter

After holding Worthing in the first half, much-depleted Horsham’s Men suffered their first defeat of the season beginning in filthy weather at the coast on Saturday. And, to make it worse, the damage was inflicted by four goals from Horsham old boy, top drag flicker, Ellis Wooley – but they remain top of the table on level points with Ashford ,(Kent) thanks to a far superior goal difference.

With 5 Horsham regulars missing, including keeper Ben Beard still on Covid19 lockdown at Hurstpierpoint School, both teams began in very cagey fashion, playing ultra defensively, as was to be expected with both in contention. Horsham had the much better first half, with skipper Sam MacDonald twice one-on-one with the Worthing keeper, but unable to convert. Having moved back to his native Worthing, danger man Wooley – a major scorer for Horsham several seasons ago – converted a short corner mid way through the first half before Horsham player coach Andy Blood made a fantastic run, beating four of the opposition en route to get into the D and pass to the far post, where ex-first team star and now 2s player Paddy Humphries tapped-in for an old school goal to level the score 1-1 at the break.

In fitful sunshine, Horsham dominated early in the second half, with Andy Blood converting a short corner 5 minutes in and then a second 3 minutes later, putting Horsham 3-1 up. Yet, with the game seemingly at their mercy, Horsham took their foot off the gas, forgetting that they needed to defend, and allowing Worthing to walk through the midfield to win another 3 short corners, all of which Wooley fired home in machine-like, unpickable manner.

Then, with Horsham 4-3 down, Worthing twisted the knife with a well-composed field goal to win 5-3. Clearly, shortage of first teamers didn’t help Horsham, but, in a repeat of the Gore Court game, when Horsham were also well ahead, on that occasion going on to draw, this really was a game to be won had they had closed it down. With regular players on board, Horsham would most probably have secured all three points, while Worthing really were the Ellis Wooley show. He may be a one-trick pony, but it was an all too impressive trick!

Horsham were due to be playing bottom club South Saxons at home on Saturday, but England Hockey has confirmed that the reinstated national lockdown will mean no club or community hockey from 5 November until after 4 December at the earliest. However, the current hope is that, providing we come out of lockdown in early December, the league will get played out. It normally shuts down for 4-5 weeks over the festive period to enable teams to play indoors, so, if that doesn’t happen, there will be spare dates.

Meanwhile, at Christ’s Hospital last Saturday, eighth-placed Horsham Ladies lost 2-5 to St Albans, two places above them in the league.  At the enforced break in the season, Barnes top the table, with Canterbury bottom after six straight defeats.

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