Sloppy start blamed for Horsham missing out on 'magical day' against Poole Town in FA Cup

Joe Shelley netted Horsham's equalising goal against Poole Town on Saturday. Picture by John Lines
Joe Shelley netted Horsham's equalising goal against Poole Town on Saturday. Picture by John Lines

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola said another sloppy start saw them miss out on a 'magical day' in the FA Cup on Saturday as they must now travel to Poole Town for a third qualifying round replay.

The Hornets conceded after just 90 seconds as Richard Gillespie fired the favourites, who play in the Southern League Premier South, ahead at a sodden Culver Road.

Joe Shelley’s header restored parity just a minute before the break and neither side could find a second-half winner, meaning they will play again at The Dolphins’ Black Gold Stadium on Tuesday night.

Di Paola felt his side went into the tie as clear underdogs against a team that were relegated from National League South last season.

There was £15,000 prize money at stake and Monday's fourth round draw means the winners of Tuesday night's replay will now take on Bostik League Premier Division side Haringey Borough in north London.

The Horsham manager felt another slow start, of which have blighted many of their matches this season, proved costly on the day. He said: "Unfortunately, we could not get the job done. They were a good side, as we expected. They have played together for a long time and had a lot of success over the last few years going up the leagues.

"I was frustrated with the start of the game. If we had not started like we did, I feel like we would have gone through. I am sick to death of poor starts and saying it.

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"I have been pleased with what the boys have been doing this year, but we have to man up and start beginning games well. If we started well on Saturday, we'd have snatched a 1-0 win and it's a magical day for the club as we are in the next round.

"We are not starting games properly and that gives us a mountain to climb each week. We need to start addressing it, if we want to move on with what we want to do this season."

On his view on what were perceived as a couple of good opportunities to win the game in the closing stages, Di Paola added: "I did not really see any really decent late chances; Will (Hoare) had one shot from an acute angle and Harvey (Sparks) had a 25-yarder that skimmed wide post by about five feet. So they weren't chances to win it, for me.

"I did not think there were many chances in the game and it was spoilt by the conditions. It was probably the worst game I have been involved in weather-wise, it was unbelievable.

"You could not really play and it was all cobbled together a bit. Fair play to the boys, they battled and while they (Poole) were definitely the better team in the first, in the second half, I felt we were.

"I think Poole will be thinking they should be able to get through now. They have travelled to us and taken us back there, so they will be by far the favourites."`

Horsham featured line-up unchanged with the side that played in Tuesday’s league win with Phoenix Sports. Strikers Chris Smith and Rob O’Toole joined Charlie Harris, Harvey Sparks, and under-23 goalkeeper Tom Baxter on the bench.

The visitors had two changes to their line-up that had thrashed Farnborough 6-0 last weekend, with Sam Griffin replacing the injured Will Spetch and the experienced Gillespie coming in for ineligible Yeovil loanee Korrey Henry, who scored a hat-trick in that win.

Gillespie took less than two minutes to make his mark, nipping in ahead of Josh Pelling to head a right-wing cross past the ‘keeper and inside his near post as the Hornets made a disastrous start.

The Hornets almost hit back immediately when Tyrell Richardson-Brown set up a shooting chance for James McElligott, whose effort flew over the bar.

Luke Roberts went close to doubling Poole’s lead, Gillespie should have done so, but took an extra touch an the danger was cleared, while Steve Metcalf also cleared a header off the line.
In a rare Horsham chance, Richardson-Brown's cross caused havoc at the far post, but neither Jack Brivio nor Will Hoare could scramble the ball in.

But a minute before the break, McElligott and Joey Taylor combined to force a corner from which Shelley rose highest to head the ball down and into the Poole net.

The second half started in a subdued fashion, before Pelling raced out of his box, but was left stranded by the spin of the ball, although Dean Lovegrove cleared up to deny Corby Moore.

Poole ‘keeper Luke Cairney denied Richardson-Brown and Hoare hit an effort just beyond the far post, before the both sides went close to claiming victory in the final ten minutes.

Substitute Sparks' early shot was inches away from finding the bottom corner with a well-struck left-footer. Poole had the ball in the Horsham net three minutes from time, but Moore’s shot was disallowed for a foul on Shelley, before Sparks sent a rising shot over the crossbar.

Horsham: Pelling, Metcalf, Shelley, Merchant, Taylor, Brivio, Hoare, Lovegrove, Hayward (Harris), McElliott (O'Toole), Richardson-Brown (Sparks). Unused: Smith, Baxter.