A sloppy first half left Horsham with a mountain to climb and ultimately resulted in defeat against Tooting and Mitcham last night.
The Hornets were second best throughout the first 45 minutes, and deservedly went into the break two goals down.
However, a goal for in-form Jamie Cade ten minutes into the second half sparked a complete shift in momentum as Horsham laid siege on the Tooting goal - but the home side were just unable to find an equaliser.
The warning signs came early for Horsham. After one minute of action, Ryan Palmer’s jinking run and accurate cross was somehow not turned in by Juan Onieva.
Tooting had started positively and soon threatened again. A whipped free kick from Jordan Cheadle looked to be going in, but was headed away from danger by Horsham player-manager Gary Charman.
Junior Kaffo shot over for Horsham before Tooting went ahead in the 11th minute.
Tom Jelley’s high cross cleared the head of Horsham keeper Keiron Thorp and was headed in to the empty net by Onieva.
A Billy-Joe King free kick troubled Tooting stopper Gareth Williams, but Horsham’s worries continued when Tony Nwachukwu limped off with a groin strain after just 17 minutes.
The Hornets were struggling to create chances and Onieva added a second goal on 38 minutes, confidently finishing past Thorp.
But Horsham immediately put the disappointing half behind them as they came out fighting after the break.
After Cade was fouled, Scott Harris delivered a teasing free kick that caused chaos in the penalty area.
A Tooting defender eventually managed to clear, but the ball rebounded off Cade’s knee and into the net for his fifth goal in as many games.
The slightly fortunate goal proved the catalyst for Horsham as they spent much of the second half on the attack.
Kaffo slipped in Ross Morley who looked to have found the bottom corner with a left foot shot - but the ball in fact nestled in the side netting.
A fizzing drive from Byron Napper brought out the best in Williams, who dived to make a great save.
The Hornets were well on top, leading to the Tooting defence committing numerous fouls - though they defended each testing free kick admirably.
Chances were beginning to come and go for the Hornets, and they were given a scare when Onieva, on a rare Tooting attack, spurned his chance for a hat-trick by shooting well wide from a good position.
Ryan Marriott volleyed wide at the near post and Billy-Joe King’s free kick was lashed goalwards by Charman, but straight at Williams.
In a late spell of intense pressure, a long Charman throw came to nothing and the final chance also fell to the manager.
Charman, completing his first 90 minutes in 12 weeks, nodded Harris’ corner inches over as Tooting held on for a win that punished Horsham for their poor first half showing.
Horsham: Thorp, Hamilton, B. King, Harris, J. King, Charman, Napper, Morley, Kaffo, Cade, Nwachukwu (Marriott 17).