Chris Smith missed a late penalty as Horsham fell to their first loss of the 2019/20 BetVictor Premier Division after a 1-0 home defeat against leaders Folkestone Invicta this (Saturday) afternoon.
In an even but scrappy game, Invicta substitute Johan Ter Horst struck 12 minutes from time before Smith's late miss to see the three points head back to Kent.
The Hornets carved out a half chance four minutes in. An overlapping run down the left from Harvey Sparks saw the left back play the ball into the box for Smith but the centre forward couldn't divert his attempt past Henry Newcombe in the Folkestone goal.
Invicta replied with a chance of their own five minutes later. A Sam Hasler free-kick from the left found Josh Vincent in the area but the right back spooned his effort well over the bar.
The game had to wait until 25 minutes for the next attacking opening as both teams had spells of controlling possession without unlocking either defence.
A wicked cross from the right by Jerry O'Sullivan almost saw a visiting defender turn the ball into his own net but, unfortunately for the Hornets, the ball went inches past the post and out for a corner. From the resulting corner, the ball ran loose to Harry Mills on the edge of the D but his shot was comfortably taken by Newcombe.
O'Sullivan wrought havoc again down the right ten minutes later. Good link up play between him and Zack Newton saw Horsham's number 11 release O'Sullivan. The right back bombed forward before playing a delicious ball into the box, that had Newcombe at full stretch, but no one in a yellow shirt could react quickly enough to turn the ball home.
On 41 minutes Charlie Harris stung the hands of Newcombe from his 35-yard free-kick. The midfielder let fly with a howitzer that the Invicta keeper could only parry out. The ball fell to Newton but he was easily dispossessed.
Two minutes later and Harris so very nearly gave the Hornets the lead with another thunderbolt. The Horsham number four picked up the ball 25-yards from goal and unleashed a rocket of a shot that cannoned off the bar.
On the stroke of half time the visitors had their first gilt-edged opening. Receiving the ball on the right, Invicta's Kieron McCann fired off a low shot that was well taken by George Bentley down to his left.
Three minutes into the second half and the visitors had the first sight of goal. Jerson Dos Santos flashed a shot at goal which required Bentley to tip the ball out for a corner, which was cleared.
Moments later and George Hayward marauded down the right before playing an inviting ball into the area. But the cross beat everyone and came to nothing, which had been a recurring theme in Horsham's attacking output.
Folkestone then fashioned a couple of half-chances. On 62 minutes Hasler fired a tame free-kick straight down Bentley's throat and three minutes later McCann blazed his attempt over the bar after a good cut back from Ira Jackson.
The Hornets forced three corners in quick succession with the best of these seeing substitute Rob O'Toole head over the bar on 69 minutes.
Folkestone then threatened on 78 minutes as substitute Ter Horst headed over the bar from close range.
And it was the Invicta sub who put the visitors ahead just a minute later. Ter Horst hit a venomous shot that Bentley spilt. The Folkestone replacement however was quick to react to tuck the rebound home and give Invicta the lead.
Horsham almost found a reply mere moments after going behind. Will Miles, hovering on the edge of the area, picked up the loose ball and fired at goal but Newcombe was equal to it.
Folkestone had the ball in the back of the net again a minute before time, after a fine first time effort from Jackson, but he was adjudged to be offside.
In second half stoppage time, the Hornets had a marvellous chance to snatch a point. Sparks' pinpoint cross was met by O'Toole but the striker's header went just wide of the post.
But there was to be late, late drama as Horsham were awarded a penalty deep into second half stoppage time. O'Toole did well to flick the ball into Smith in the box but the forward was brought down.
Smith stepped up to earn his side a point but he dragged his shot agonisingly wide of the post as the full time whistle blew.
Horsham: Bentley, O'Sullivan, Sparks, Harris, Mills, Miles, Dawson (Kelly 85), Hayward (O'Toole 55), Lavery, Smith, Newton (Harding 79). Unused: Brivio, Rance.
Referee: Andy Bennett