Di Paola and Horsham 'supportive' of forward after agonising penalty miss

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola. Picture by Steve Robards
Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola. Picture by Steve Robards

Dominic Di Paola revealed that everyone at Horsham was ‘supportive’ of Chris Smith after the forward missed a late penalty in their 1-0 home BetVictor Premier Division loss against top-of-the-table Folkestone Invicta on Saturday.

Johan Ter Horst netted what proved to be Invicta’s winner 12 minutes from time before Smith’s agonising spot-kick miss deep into second-half stoppage time.

The striker’s penalty agony saw the Hornets fall to their first league defeat of the 2019/20 season and drop to ninth.

Di Paola said: “We’re a team. Every goal conceded is a mistake by someone, every pass that isn’t completed is a mistake.

“It’s a high profile mistake but we’re all supportive of the fact that he missed the penalty.

“He’s stepped up to take it but he hasn’t scored it and it’s a killer for us. It’s a killer for him and no one was going to feel worse than him on Saturday because he’s a good, honest, genuine lad.

“It’s a tough one for him to take but I was just disappointed we didn’t take something from the game.”

The loss to Invicta was the first time Horsham had suffered a home defeat since December 4 2018, where they succumbed 1-0 to National League South outfit Eastbourne Borough in the third round of the Sussex Senior Cup.

Their unbeaten spell at home in the league extends even further. The last time the Hornets lost in the league was their 5-4 thriller against Haywards Heath Town on August 27.

On the loss of their undefeated run, Di Paola said: “We went 12 months unbeaten at home in the league. That’s pretty impressive. I know a lot of it was in the league below but we’ve had a good run.

“Sooner or later we were going to lose. We were due a little bit of bad luck like missing the pen at the end.”

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Di Paola also rued Horsham’s lack of cutting edge in the final third. The Hornets controlled possession for large swathes of the game but could not convert their dominance on the ball into goals.

This has been a recurring theme in the Hornets’ opening five league games, bar the 4-1 win at Enfield Town a fortnight ago, and Di Paola has called on his players to ‘punish the opposition’.

He added: “In all of the games we’ve played we’ve been the better team over a larger period of each game. But what we’re finding is, when teams do have their spell they capitalise.

“We had about 65 per cent possession in the first half against Folkestone according to our software. But they have a 20 minute period where they end up getting the goal.

“We’ve got to learn quickly that when we’re dominant we have to punish the opposition. The difference between this division and the one below is that when teams are having their little period they capitalise.

“If we can resolve that issue I think we’ll improve again and go up another level in our performances.”

Horsham visit Southern League Premier Division South side Metropolitan Police in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday.