Peter Buckland hailed an ‘excellent’ Horsham YMCA performance despite his side conceding a last-gasp winner to crash out of the FA Cup to BetVictor Premier outfit Margate on Saturday.
The visitors were ahead midway through the second-half of this first qualifying round tie after Jack Richards volleyed home but Matt Daniel pulled YMCA level inside the final ten minutes.
With the two sides heading for a replay, Margate dealt a cruel blow in stoppage time when Elliott Reeves tapped in his own rebound after heading against the post.
Despite the loss, Buckland is proud with how his squad performed. He said: “All things considered, I’ve got to be really pleased with an excellent performance. We were in the game for the whole 90 minutes and took an Isthmian Premier side all the way. It’s one of our best performances of the season.
“We had to play a game that was a little bit alien to us. We’re known for being on the front foot and going forward so we had to be more defensively minded to stay in the game for long periods. (The players) took it all on board and adapted really well. I’m really proud of them.”
Buckland’s side settled quickly into what would become a solid defensive display, thwarting every Margate attack, including a last-ditch tackle on Julien Anua to halt his driving run on the stroke of half-time.
Margate started the second period brightly, dominating possession and passing the ball around quickly but the YM defence were well-marshalled by Dean Carden, holding firm amidst growing frustration from the visiting side.
However, the visitors did eventually open the scoring on 68 minutes. Ramadan’s cross was cleared to the marauding Richards who smashed a volley into the back of the net from 20 yards.
YMCA pulled level against their two division-higher opponents on 82 minutes after a low ball fizzed into the box found Daniel waiting at the back post to prod in.
Reeves almost found an instant reply but his free header, from eight yards out, dropped wide. It mattered not though, as the debutant restored the away side’s advantage in stoppage time, heading the ball against the post from a cross, and poking the rebound beyond the ‘keeper to break YM hearts.
Buckland revealed he had already begun organising for the replay before Margate struck late on. He added: “I thought ‘we’re going to have to leave very early, we’ve got to organise the coach’. We were literally organising ourselves for a replay.”
YM travel to Saltdean United tonight (Tuesday, 7.45pm) but will have to wait a fortnight before they next take to the field.
They host Peacehaven & Telscombe in the league on Saturday, September 21.
Horsham YMCA: A Jeal, Carden, Evans, Hunt, Lovegrove, Gedling, Nwachukwu, Daniel (Frankland 89), Smith, Ryder, Pearse (C Jeal 72). Unused: Moylan, Clarke, Lindsey, Eales, Wadhams.