Horsham FC boss: Easter weekend will be really tough on players and management

Horsham FC are gearing up for an intense Easter weekend featuring two Isthmian Premier games in three days.
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The play-off chasing Hornets travel to fifth-from-bottom Cheshunt on Saturday before entertaining West Sussex rivals Bognor on Monday.

Manager Dominic Di Paola admitted this time of the season was tough on players and management alike.

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The boss also revealed that Horsham had asked Cheshunt to bring Saturday’s fixture forward in a bid to stay fresh for Monday.

Horsham will be hoping for Easter treats against Cheshunt and Bognor Regis Town. Picture by John LinesHorsham will be hoping for Easter treats against Cheshunt and Bognor Regis Town. Picture by John Lines
Horsham will be hoping for Easter treats against Cheshunt and Bognor Regis Town. Picture by John Lines

Di Paola said: “It’s really hard. I’ve been doing it my whole football life. It’s hard to play in.

“As much as you’re trying to push things to be fresh for the Monday, it’s very hard with that quick turnaround.

“I’ve seen some of the teams have moved their games to the Friday, but Cheshunt wouldn’t move it.

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“But it’s part of the British footballing tradition. For people that are off work at Christmas and Easter, it’s a great thing because they get to watch games - but it’s really tough on the players and the management. You have a lot of work to do and you don’t get to enjoy your Easter because you’re planning it around football.

“We’ve got two really tough games - and we’re well aware of our task over the next four weeks.

“Cheshunt away will be a very difficult game. The pitch isn’t going to be great, I would have thought, because they played on it Tuesday night.

“Margate winning on Tuesday night at Cheshunt has put Cheshunt in much more of a predicament. If they hadn’t lost, they would have been safe. But now there’s a seven point swing, anything can happen now. That’s no good for us, because I was kind of hoping they’d have the cigars out Saturday!

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“Then we’ve got Bognor, who are a very, very good side this season. Without being harsh, because I don’t mean it that way, I’d say they’ve underachieved. Whenever I see them I think they should be right in the mix.”

Di Paola was fulsome in his praise of the Rocks, who ran out 2-0 winners when the two sides met at Nyewood Lane on Boxing Day.

He said: “They’re a good young team. They’ve got two or three players that are up there with the best in the league.

“Craig Robson and Dan Gifford are up there with some of the best in this league. I really like Harvey Whyte, their captain. I think he’s a winner.

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“We were really, really poor on Boxing Day against them. It was probably our worst performance of the season, without taking anything away from Bognor. We just didn’t turn up.”

Di Paola also revealed Horsham had a ‘mountain of problems’ going into the Easter programme.

He said the Hornets were dealing with a lengthy injury list, with a number of key players set to miss the two games.

Horsham were dealt a further blow on Wednesday as it was announced loanee Isaac Philpot had returned to parent club Dorking Wanderers. The defender will now be dual-registered until the end of the season.

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Di Paola said: “We’ve got a mountain of problems. We’ve got a whole host of things going down that I can’t really go into too much detail in terms of player availability, but we’ve got a lot of problems.

Tom Kavanagh has gone out on loan and dislocated his shoulder. The plan was to get him some minutes and bring him back in.

“Tucky [Doug Tuck] got injured in training, Bobby Price is still out, Cookie [Charlie Hester-Cook] is struggling massively with his foot from the Carshalton game, [Jack] Brivio we need to assess in the next couple of days.

“Strangey [Jack Strange] is playing injured. He’s been playing injured since he came back and he’s still not right, but he’ll suffer through it until the end of the season if he can.

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“That’s just a few I can tell you about, so we have to manage it. But it’s the same for everyone. I’m not moaning. It is what it is.

“We’re not in dire straits, we’ve just got a lot of things we need to get our heads round in terms of what and how we can get through these next couple of games.”

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