Dominic Di Paola hailed a ‘brilliant day’ for Horsham and their supporters as they officially opened The Camping World Community Stadium with a 3-1 friendly victory over Crawley Town of the Football League on Saturday.
Chris Smith’s deft chip gave the Hornets a shock lead before Reece Grego-Cox’s thunderous strike restored parity before half-time.
But a second-half Kieran Lavery double ensured that Horsham secured a famous win on an historic day for the club.
Di Paola said: “For the local community and our supporters it was a brilliant day.
“We’re quite detached from it because we’re the actual team. We’re there all the time so we take it for granted.
“But for everyone else connected with the football club it must have been special, especially ones that have never been to the ground before.
“To walk into that stadium on Saturday would have been a massive buzz for them.
“Seeing a big gate and people queuing for beers and kids running around wearing the Horsham kit and trying to get signatures from the players is amazing.
“I think it’s what the club’s needed for so long so hopefully some of those people that came and watched on Saturday will keep coming.”
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Horsham went toe-to-toe with their higher-level opposition and ended up prevailing over a side who are three divisions above them.
Although Lavery bagged two goals - including a sensational curled effort that made it 3-1 - and new boy Zack Newton gave the Crawley defence a torrid time, Di Paola preferred to focus on a complete team performance.
The Hornets manager added: “The most pleasing thing for me, not so much the individual performances, but that we worked really hard out of possession.
“Our shape work was pretty good and our structure was getting there which is what we needed to do as we’ve got a few new boys.
“I don’t think it’s fair to highlight anyone. I think it’s only a pre-season friendly at the end of the day.
“We really got what we wanted out of it. The fact that they train everyday and they’re super fit so they can get after us and press us.
“It was good and we were really grateful that they came down. They had a mixed squad together but at least there were some first team players in there.
“It was just a different challenge. They’re so sharp on the press and they’re so sharp in the traps they set, it was great for us to have that sort of challenge.”
Horsham travel to Eastbourne Town this (Tuesday) evening (7.45pm) in their fifth pre-season friendly match.