Horsham did themselves proud but it was a case of what could have been as they ‘did not get what they deserved’ in their FA Cup replay at Poole Town on Tuesday night.
The Hornets threw away a lead as they suffered a 2-1 defeat against their Southern Premier side opponents in front of a healthy crowd.
It was an impressive showing at the The Black Gold Stadium in Dorset, but not enough to clinch them a place in the fourth qualifying round against Haringey Borough and the £15,000 prize money.
Heeding words of criticism from their manager of recent slow starts, Harvey Sparks put Horsham ahead early on and they hit the bar too – before Jamie Whisken nodded Poole level on the stroke of half-time.
A second-half goal from Corey Moore was enough to clinch the tie for Poole, but Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola felt his side’s efforts deserved more.
He Paola said: “I think over the two games – while you could accuse me of being biased – I would say that we were the better team for more than one of the games.
“Unfortunately, it’s a game of fine margins. Having watched the video, we made a poor mistake for their first goal on Saturday and on Tuesday night, their first goal was another mistake.
“If we had got through to half-time, I think we could have gone on and won the game. There was a great chance just before their equaliser that the keeper saved, it hit the bar and could have gone anywhere and it was just over Harvey as he was running in for the follow-up.
“They had a lot of the ball, but in two games they had six shots and scored three goals, that tells me we are not doing something quite right.
“They are a good side and we knew their strengths, but it has been two even games against a side in the top eight of the league above with a number of players that played Conference South the year before.
“Through all my pride and happiness, I am frustrated as we have not got – in my opinion – what we deserved over the two games. Those mistakes have cost us, that’s the negative.
“The boys were fantastic and but for having one off the line, a lucky bounce here and there or some time wasting that the referee should have be stronger with, who knows?”
Sparks gave Horsham the lead on 13 minutes in a first half that Horsham dominated. Shortly before half-time, Rob O’Toole thought he had doubled the visitors’ lead, but saw his one-on-one effort come back off the crossbar.
In a cruel twist, Poole went straight down the other end and Whisken headed home a set-piece a minute before half-time.
Five minutes after the break, the home took the lead when Moore finished after a scramble in the area.
Despite plenty of endeavour, Horsham could not find an equaliser as they came up against resilient home goalkeeper Luke Cairney.
Horsham: Pelling, Metcalf, Shelley, Merchant-Simmons, Taylor, Sparks (McElliogott 85), Harris, Hoare, Richardson-Brown, Brivio (Lovegrove 76), O’Toole. Unused: Baxter, Hyde, Punter.