With two senior players missing, an under-strength Horsham missed the chance to create some clear water at the top of South Premier Division 2 when they let Wycombe in at the death.
This failure to capitalise on a goal advantage, 4-3 ahead with only two minutes left on the clock, prompted manager Al Campbell to comment ‘a team this good should easily be able to park the bus, but we seem to lack a conductor.’
Horsham started brilliantly at Christ’s Hospital, scoring inside the first minute with their first attack. Sam Gill got the goal from close in, following a great passing move down the right.
Chas Richardson then doubled the advantage, firing in on the rebound from a Sean Pearcy short corner with Horsham seemingly learning to convert their opportunities.
Slack defending saw Wycombe pull a goal back and the teams turned around at 2-1. There is, however, a third team in every hockey match, the umpires, and a major feature of the first half had been the number of cards given out.
The umpires’ judgement was a major concern for both benches, and the half-time talks were about how to keep 11 players on the pitch.
Within minutes of the restart, Horsham’s Sam Gill was sent to the naughty step, for what seemed an innocuous tackle. He was the first of many to be sidelined, from both teams, as the half progressed.
Given an extra man, Wycombe cranked up the pressure, won penalty flick, and equalised. Whilst Horsham looked composed and in control in the back division the midfield started to misfire and a loose pass let Wycombe in to take the lead.
Wycombe then fell foul of the umpires and dropped to ten men.
Campbell took off a defender, added a forward and created an overlap up front which saw Richardson get on the end of a Sean Pearcy through ball and deflect into the net.
Minutes later the same pressure turned into a short corner which Pearcy converted to give Horsham a 4-3 lead.
That should have been it. Horsham dropped back into a defensive formation but seemed mesmerised by the fact that the visitors subbed their keeper.
It should have been the easiest thing in the world to shut the game out but, with seconds to go, they let Wycombe score again.
“We’re level on points at the top, third on goal difference and, upon reflection, with the bizarre umpiring decisions, both teams will probably be happy to have a point,” said Campbell.
“But we really should have taken all three.”