Horley hoodoo returns
The first team slumped to a disappointing 3-0 defeat away at Horley Town last Saturday, in a game where they were second best from the first minute.
Darren Salmon was without a recognised full back, with Aaron Bogle, Anson Cousins and Keano Robinson all unavailable, but a swift look at the Horley team showed them to be without their influential skipper Adam Pullen and the lively Tate Greenaway, so the missing more than evened themselves out.
Horley set the tone for the game in the opening minute when a ball over top found Matt Fairbrother, who cut inside a challenge only to see his effort well saved by Craig Bradshaw in the SCR goal.
We responded in kind, and forced a corner on the left after neat work by Matt Robinson and Ben Ewing. The initial delivery was cleared and from the follow up Owen Davies headed high over the crossbar.
A couple of minutes later and after debutant Kevant Serbony had broken up play, we moved forward, Michael Campbell found Robinson, but his low shot was a comfortable save for George Hyde.
Horley started to excert more pressure and a loopy ball into the area by Fairbrother was destined for Kylr Hough, only for Joe Mead to put in an excellent clearance. A minute later and after Ewing had gifted possession to the Fairbrother, Bradshaw made a tremendous save with his right hand to keep it at 0-0.
On 16 minutes, we survived a major scare. Having forced a corner, the delivery was poor and Horley broke quickly, Fairbrother strode forward rounded a couple, beat Bradshaw with his shot, but saw the effort cannon off the left post before being hooked clear.
Mark Bevan, Hough and Fairbrother then linked up well, only to see the final ball into the box well defended by Davies. We were struggling to keep any possession and it looked only a matter of time before Horley took the lead.
The goal eventually came on 31 minutes, a quick break down the right, ended with a low cross to Fairbrother, who was left with a virtual open goal, and duly fired Horley into the lead.
Two minutes later, and a huge collision on the edge of our area involving Serbony and Horley's Scott Robson, left the Horley player in a heap. Bradshaw did well to move him into the recovery position and after a lengthy delay the game, and player continued.
It was 2-0 on 36 minutes, when a ball into the area by Hough left Richard Wetton with a free header, and he nodded it beyond Bradshaw to increase the Horley lead.
We survived another scare as the half ran out, when a Bradshaw clearance was picked off by Wetton, and although he managed to lob it beyond the keeper, Davies was back to clear off the line.
If we thought we would go in with just a two goal deficit at the break, we were dealt a further blow on the stroke of half time, when a fierce drive by Fairbrother made it 3-0.
Darren Salmon rang the changes at the break, removing both Elton Gjoni and Jordan Johnson-Palmer, and replacing them with Ross Bedding and Sam Blowers.
We started the second half positively, as we had to do, and in the opening minutes, Ewing released Blowers with a throw, he beat a couple but fired his effort high over the crossbar.
Two minutes later and Bedding set Campbell away on the right, he forced a corner and after Davies had won the initial ball, Robinson could only poke his effort over the bar.
Ewing and George Murphy then combined to stop the marauding Hough, and back at the other end Robinson got the better of Robson, but dragged his effort wide of the right hand post.
Blowers found his way into the book on 55 minutes for a high challenge on Ben Herdman.
We were continuing to perform much better than we had in the first half, although it would have been hard to have been worse, and were actually holding our own.
On the hour and Murphy was almost embarrassed by Fairbrother, but having missed his first challenge he recovered well to make the clearance.
Midway through the half and we almost found a way back into the game, Mead picked the ball up inside our half and under pressure went back to Bradshaw, his huge clearance found Robinson but after tricking his way into the area he stumbled and the chance went begging.
Horley were continuing to play some nice stuff on a tricky surface, but we were holding firm this half, and despite a few scares when they got in behind us, and Bradshaw was called upon to make a couple of save, we looked more solid.
We made our final change on 72 minutes, replacing Murphy with Matt Auletta, giving him the opportunity to have a run at his former U17 coach Robson.
Wetton fired in a driven low shot on 74 minutes, which Bradshaw did well to turn away low to his left, and then Robson, Alex Barbary and Fairbrother combined to bring yet another good save from Bradshaw.
There were few chances towards the end of the game, with Robinson bringing a brave save out of Hyde as time ran out.
A hugely disappointing afternoon for us, and one that must not happen again.