Di Paola on creating a new culture and having competition for places as Horsham improve

Football, Bostik League South Division: Horsham v Hythe. Dominic Di Paola . Pic Stephen Goodger. DSC_3053
Football, Bostik League South Division: Horsham v Hythe. Dominic Di Paola . Pic Stephen Goodger. DSC_3053

Dominic Di Paola says he is trying to create a new culture at Horsham as they build a stronger squad and have a new level of competition for places.

Saturday's starting XI in their 1-0 win over Herne Bay in the South East Division of the Bostik League featured just two players that played in their final game of the 2017/18 campaign.

Josh Pelling, Joe Shelley, Steve Metcalf, Lewis Hyde, Charlie Farmer, Jack Hartley, Scott Kirkwood and Adam Hunt - although the latter two are currently injured - are the only survivors of last season's permanent squad.

The club has strengthen significantly over the summer with some experienced and well-known additions at this level.

That led to many tipping the Hornets for a definite play-off push and some suggesting they may be capable of even more this season, but Di Paola has admitted he felt some of the talk was 'unrealistic'.

The Horsham manager has, overall, been pleased with their start - two wins from five league games - and feels they have played well in their defeats. He does admit things are a work in progress, but believes the work is progressing in the right direction.

Di Paola said: "We are trying to create a culture here. You look at Worthing - they have got 17 or 18 players that can play and if you are not on your game, you are not in the side.

"We have not been fortunate enough to have that for two years. Since we have been in the Bostik League we have had to put up with poor performances as we haven't had the quality to do that.

"We are in quite a good position, everyone has to buy into it. We cannot have a squad of 11 we have to have a group as that is what has been killing us.

"I have got a lot of belief in these lads. They work really hard and their attitude is great, for them every time you win a game it's a bit of a boost."

It was clear their opening-day 2-1 defeat at home to Sittingbourne acted as a bit of a reality check, but Di Paola is satisfied with the effort and work-rate from a team that is still learning to play with each other.

He added: "They were a bit shell shocked after Sittingbourne as people were tipping us to do this and that, which I thought was a bit unrealistic, but that opening spell might have been a kick in the teeth.

"Since then they have been good as gold. I have been happy with them and the ones that are not playing, I feel for them as they haven't done anything wrong.

"Dean Lovegrove has not been in the side, Joey Taylor was away on international duty and George Hayward away for the FA Cup game, he has not played and Tyrell (Richardson-Brown) when he has played he has scored two and set up four. The hard thing is keeper everyone happy.

"We have got good players this year, the longer they stay together and gel, the better they will be. It's a little bit about changing the culture and mind set as we want to improve the club on and off the pitch."

Horsham hosts Heybridge Swifts in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday with a place in the next round and £9,000 up for grabs for the winners.