Horsham struggle down by the riverside
Henley down to 7 men but time runs out as Men's 1s stage late recovery
Following a tortuous drive around the M25 Horsham arrived at unknown quantity Henley missing three players from the squad that opened the season with nine points from nine. Joe Humphreys sustained a broken big toe against Trojans (or should that be Toe-Jams?). Dave Leadbitter had a half-term shoulder injury. Dom Cohen had a marital complaint. Ian Brown, Mark Humphrey and Andy Mac stepped in.
The home side, newly promoted this season, also had full points and had recruited players from Reading. All was set for a challenging match.
Horsham started brilliantly. Two minutes into the game Freddie Campbell made a telling tackle, ran at Henley creating a two-on-one, laid off to John Burroughs and raced into the D to receive the return pass, control a bouncing ball, and beat the keeper.
However it was the bounce that proved Horsham’s undoing. The dry hybrid pitch was extremely lively and could have done with the sort of downpour we had last year for the mixed game down by the riverside. Henley’s strategy was to bang the ball up field and capitalise as Horsham’s defenders struggled to bring it under control.
It was a tactic that worked particularly well in the D – shots were stopped by Henley finished them sharply before Horsham could clear.By half time a series of defensive errors had seen Henley slot 4 times with no further reply.
Horsham rearranged. Coach Dom Male dropped into the back line. Burroughs, dropping back into midfield added composure. The tempo increased and the game swung Horsham’s way. Jack Dean scored in broken play following a short corner. Drag-flicks from Matt Hough converted two more ‘shorties’.
Despite to two more home goals from further defensive errors Horsham were firmly in the driving seat. Brutal play from Henley saw a succession of yellow cards that with 5 to go left them with only 7 players on the field – and also caused some to wonder why the umpires hadn’t intervened on various early occasions. However the damage had been done in the first 35 minutes and the final whistle blew with Horsham still pushing strongly.
Coming back to win the second half 3-2 showed great character. Then again, when we have injuries, we need to adapt our defensive tactics to cut out the errors. The team expects Cohen back next week and hopes that Leadbitter will recover. However Joe-the-toe will be out until possibly after Christmas.
The next fixture sees Horsham entertain London Edwardians, who sit one point above in the table, at BBH.