Horsham 1 Hornchurch 0: Hornets go top of the table after more late drama

Horsham's Charlie Harris. Picture by Steve Robards
Horsham's Charlie Harris. Picture by Steve Robards

Charlie Harris' strike ten minutes from time saw Horsham claim a late victory over Hornchurch in a tense top-of-the table clash to go top of the BetVictor Premier Division this (Saturday) afternoon.

The first half saw the Hornets have lots of possession but lacked a cutting edge in the final third. The second half followed the same pattern until 80 minutes.

Charlie Harris tapped home from his own rebound to spark pandemonium in the stands and send Horsham top of the Premier Division.

The Hornets, who were promoted last season via the Bostik South East play-offs, sit level on points with second-placed Folkestone Invicta, who recorded a 3-2 home victory over Brightlingsea Regent, but head the table by virtue of goal difference.

Dominic Di Paola made two changes from Tuesday night's last-gasp victory at Corinthian Casuals. Kieron Pamment came in for Lee Harding while Rob O'Toole replaced the injured Kieran Lavery.

The Hornets bossed the first half and had their first sight of goal on six minutes. A buccaneering run from Harris saw the midfielder hit a low driven shot from outside the box just wide.

The Hornets were forced into an early change three minutes later. Skipper Will Miles was unable to continue due to injury and was replaced by Dylan Merchant.

A beautiful diagonal pass from Harris on 17 minutes found Pamment on the right flank. The winger's driven cross was spilt by Urchins keeper Joe Wright but no one in a yellow shirt could capitalise.

Chris Smith stung the fingertips of Wright on 23 minutes. The in-form forward cut inside from the left before firing a curling 25-yard strike that was well saved by the Urchins keeper.

The Horsham onslaught continued two minutes later. The Hornets won a free-kick on the edge of the D after a foul by George Winn. Smith stepped up to take it but his effort flew over the bar.

On the half-hour mark a delightful ball from Harry Mills set Pamment on his way down the right. Horsham's number 11 cut into the area but his shot was well blocked by a Hornchurch player.

On 35 minutes, a ball from the right beat several players before landing at Smith's feet at the back post. The forward did well to get a shot away but his attempt sailed wide.

The league leaders hadn't hit their stride and mustered their first attempt on 37 minutes. A George Saunders free-kick from 20-yards, after a foul on Chris Dickson, dipped too late and went over.

Three minutes before half-time, a George Bentley blunder almost gave the visitors the lead. A shanked clearance from a Hornets throw saw the ball spin back into the box.

The Horsham keeper came charging off his line and Dickson nipped in front of him . The ball spun towards the goal but the ball was hacked away.

The restart saw the Hornets reassert their dominance. Three minutes into the second half Pamment was found in acres of space down the right. The winger held the ball up before firing a curling effort just inches wide of Wright's far post.

And Horsham had an even better chance to break the deadlock a minute later. Jack Brivio let fire with a ferocious 25-yard piledriver that beat Wright buy rattled the crossbar.

But the Urchins could and should have taken the lead on the hour mark. A ball over the top from Christou found Ronnie Winn completely free in the area but the midfielder could only drag his shot wide.

The leaders were now coming to the fore. Bentley was called on to palm a swinging Daniel Uchechi effort on 63 minutes over the bar. From Saunders' corner Ricky Hayles' bullet header went over.

The Hornets came agonisingly close to going ahead four minutes later. Pamment fizzed a cross into the six-yard box but substitute Zack Newton couldn't quite make contact to poke home.

Moments later Pamment came close again as his swerving shot went inches wide of the mark. Harvey Sparks' cross-cum-shot then struck the post on 76 minutes.

But Horsham's hard-work was rewarded with ten minutes to go. Harris' Exocet rocket from 30-yards beat Wright but crashed against the crossbar. The ball rebounded out to Newton who laid the ball into Harris to tuck into an empty net and spark delirium in the stands.

Horsham: Bentley, Mills, Sparks, Brivio, Shelley, Miles (Merchant 9), O'Toole (Newton 60), Dawson, Smith (Harding 89), Harris, Pamment. Unused: Metcalf, Kelly.

Referee: Joe Stokes

Attendance: 619