Horsham rally to hold Eastbourne in ten-goal thriller

Horsham’s entertaining visit to The Saffrons last Saturday was a mixture of seemingly terminal mistakes, followed by an inspired recovery, culminating in a goal fest and eventual relief in salvaging a point.

Horsham went 3-0 down within 20 minutes, yet Eastbourne kept squandering their lead, finishing disappointed after playing the better hockey, at their customary fast and furious pace, for most of the game.

With Horsham’s defence simply off the pace, within six minutes a home forward walked through the middle and found the net. That was repeated on 12 minutes and a third time shortly afterwards.

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Horsham should have been dead and buried, but, an exceptional counter charge was mounted, captain Sam Macdonald proving just the man for the job, netting his first hat-trick for several seasons.

Sean Pearcy struck at the death to snatch a draw for Horsham. Picture by Steve Robards

Importantly, MacDonald’s first goal came just before half-time - running the line into the Eastbourne D from the right, he somehow forced the ball past the keeper from an acute angle.

With some self-belief restored, Coach Andy Blood gave his team a roasting at half-time and they responded, MacDonald soon cutting the deficit to a single goal, again beating the home keeper from a tight position, this time from the left.

Next, MacDonald received the ball at the top of the D, pivoted and blasted home to equalise, and with all the momentum suddenly Horsham’s way, a win for them seemed more than likely.

Eastbourne, though, wouldn’t lay down, and with Horsham loading the opposition half, they left themselves exposed at the back and an opportunistic pass found a spare Eastbourne forward, who cleverly lifted the ball over keeper Rich Hancock’s head.

Then, the fine balance between attack and defence over-tipped, Horsham shipping another goal, from a short corner. However, even at 5-3 down the game was far from over.

A hit-and-hope pass from the Horsham midfield found young Luca Yeats near the Eastbourne penalty spot and he coolly stroked the ball past the keeper.

With time evaporating and 5-4 adrift, Horsham’s depleted squad still didn’t give up, and with two minutes left, pressure led to a short corner, which Sean Pearcy managed to bounce off the keeper’s toe cap into the net.

The draw sees Horsham slip two places to sixth – something they can remedy if they beat fourth-placed Old Georgians at home this coming Saturday at Christ’s Hospital (11.30), but, they will need to remedy the defensive mistakes and poor passing that cost them the three points at Eastbourne.