Horsham 3 Metropolitan Police 2: Late Smith heroics in FA Cup replay fires Hornets into next round
Chris Smith's last-gasp goal saw Horsham clinch a dramatic 3-2 home win over Metropolitan Police in tonight (Tuesday)'s breathless FA Cup first qualifying round replay.
Bilal Sayoud fired Met in front after just nine minutes before Harvey Sparks levelled the score three minutes before the break. Smith grabbed his first of the night three minutes into the second period but there was to be late, late drama.
Luke Robinson made it 2-2 with ten minutes to go to seemingly force the game into extra-time. But Smith had other ideas.
The in-from striker bundled the ball home on 90 minutes to see Horsham secure a heart-stopping victory and set up a second qualifying round tie at home to National League South side Dartford on Saturday, September 21.
Dominic Di Paola made a solitary change from Saturday's 1-1 draw at the Old Bill. Lee Harding came in for Rob O'Toole while keeper Sebastian Oldham was drafted onto the bench.
The Met gave the Hornets a fright after just three minutes. Ayoub Assal was brought down on the edge of the box and from the free-kick Jack Mazzone unleashed a ferocious shot that rattled the post.
But this scare turned into full on horror for Horsham as the visitors took the lead six minutes later. Sayoud did well to beat his man before firing a marvellous swerving 20-yard strike past George Bentley to make it 1-0 Met.
Despite falling behind the Hornets began playing neat and tidy football which brought a succession of chances. On 16 minutes Charlie Harris skewed his shot wide, and three minutes later a slick passing move played in Alex Kelly but Met keeper Charlie Burns reacted quickest to claim the through ball.
Smith was then denied on 21 minutes. Last week's goalscorer received the ball after a delicate flick from Harding but Jeremy Arthur was on hand to block his shot out for a corner.
Horsham continued to grow into the game. Four minutes later Will Miles let fly with a speculative long-range effort that was easily claimed by Burns.
But the Police were still carrying a threat. On 27 minutes Sayoud beat his man on the right, yet again, and fired a dipping effort that Bentley could only parry out for a corner.
The Hornets had a huge appeal for handball in the penalty area a minute later but referee James Robinson remained unmoved and waved play on.
On 35 minutes Zack Newton hit a bullet cross across the face of the goal but there was no one in a yellow and green shirt in the area to tap home.
Horsham had huffed and puffed but they finally blew Met's house down, albeit in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, three minutes before half-time. Sparks bombed down the wing and delivered a cross-cum-shot that ended up flying into the top corner to level the score.
And the Hornets needed just three minutes of the second half to go in front. A long ball forward was flicked on by Harding into the path of Smith who coolly slotted the ball past Burns to make it 2-1.
Smith spurned a gilt-edged opportunity two minutes later to press home Horsham's advantage. A beautiful diagonal ball from Kelly found Newton who buccaneered upfield. The winger fizzed a cross into the goalscorer but the forward contrived to blaze the ball wide with the goal gaping.
The Met then squandered a golden opening of their own on 52 minutes. Mazzone did well to bring the ball down into the box for Rhys King but the substitute could only blast his shot over the crossbar.
On the hour Burns was forced into a great stop to keep the Old Bill in the game. Harding was sent through on goal but the keeper produced a fine save to deny the midfielder.
The Hornets were let off the hook on 64 minutes after sub Hani Benchiche dragged his low shot wide after threatening build up play from the visitors.
Five minutes later and a breakneck Horsham counter attack saw Kelly drive an effort millimetres past the post. Harris' deliciously dinked effort then clipped the crossbar on 74 minutes.
The Hornets were left to rue their lack of cutting edge as the Old Bill levelled with ten minutes to go. Assal picked out King on the wing and the substitute cut the ball back to Robinson who expertly curled the ball into top corner to make it 2-2.
But at the death Smith was in the right place at the right time to put the hosts in front. Sub Kieron Pamment whipped a ball into the box and Smith, on the goal line, chested the ball home to spark pandemonium at The Camping World Community Stadium.
Horsham: Bentley, Mills (Metcalf 65), Sparks, Kelly (Brivio 90), Shelley, Miles, Harding (Pamment 63), Dawson, Smith, Harris, Newton. Unused: James, Merchant, Rance, Oldham.
Referee: James Robinson