Horsham were left to count the cost of a controversial umpire call as they lost their heads and their third straight game in South Premier Division 2.
For the second week running Horsham were the better side without taking points as they lost 4-3.
This game hinged on a hugely controversial umpiring call, after which tempers frayed and Horsham didn’t do themselves justice. Until that point it was a fantastic game of hockey.
The first half was extremely cagey, both sides playing clever hockey, Horsham with the better of the chances.
Chas Richardson squirted the ball wide of an open goal early doors. Crosses went a whisker past Horsham sticks.
The Horsham defence has sorted itself out and managed the backfield well, whilst Freddie Campbell, Richardson, Rob Turnbull and Horsham man of the match Ed Marsh controlled midfield.
So it was against the run of play, in a clumsy goalmouth fracas, that Eastbourne opened the scoring three minutes from half-time.
The way the game had been played, no-one in the crowd could have expected six further goals in the second half.
Eastbourne doubled their lead five minutes after the break when a powerful drag-flick at a short corner eluded net minder Nick Evans.
Horsham had arrived with only 13 men to the home side’s 16 and suffered a further loss when Tim Upchurch rolled his ankle.
Yet the 12 men of Horsham rose to the occasion and Sam Gill forced home from close in, before Sean Pearcy took his tally for the season to seven with a well-placed short corner. Two apiece and game on.
But Horsham’s defenders were tiring, finally made a mistake and let Eastbourne net again. Yet still the West Sussex side pressed and with 15 minutes left had all the momentum.
Then the umpiring call. Turnbull was fouled inside the Eastbourne half, the umpire signalled advantage, as a consequence of the foul Turnbull fell to the floor and the umpire blew. Bizarrely, instead of giving Horsham the hit he signalled it for the home side.
In full attacking mode Horsham were totally surprised as Eastbourne ran the ball downfield and beat a stranded Evans to score their fourth.
Frustration set in, Horsham players collected senseless yellow cards yet still managed to score again through Zak Chinn.
They were still on top when time ran out and they suffered a shock third-straight defeat, having previously been unbeaten in their opening three fixtures.
“We know umpires make mistakes,” manager Al Campbell commented.
“But when it changes the result it really rankles. We were worth at least one point and probably all three – but that’s hockey.”
This week Horsham entertain Trojans at Christ’s Hospital with a push-back time of 11.30am.