Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division
Horley Town 3 AFC Hayes 1
HONESTY is the best policy they say and Horley Town earned top marks for that virtue at a muddy The New Defence on Saturday.
Despite being outplayed by 13th-placed 10-man visitors AFC Hayes, who had beaten Town in their first meeting earlier this season, The Clarets conjured up an unlikely victory from the jaws of a seemingly certain impending shock defeat.
The visitors were reduced after 74 minutes when midfielder James Charles was sent off by referee Phil Jones for violent conduct, having floored right-back Scott Robson who needed treatment before continuing.
So the hosts bounced back to fifth spot in the top flight table following their third successive league win and the players enjoyed their celebrations deservedly afterwards.
Yet the club’s social media feed admitted afterwards: "It was our worst performance of the season, but the difference is with this team that we still get the three points." The added words "commitment" and "team belief" told the story.
And you can always rely on first-team coach Chris Weller for a succinct summing up. He also took to social media to highlight an inevitable half-time "rollicking," or words to that effect. "We should have been out of the game by 60 minutes. But a few changes, we dug deep and got the result. Tough."
Top scorer and man of the match Ashley Nadesan bagged another decisive brace, taking his tally to an astonishing 11 goals in the last six league games, while attacking full-back Robson, who was clearly frustrated by his side’s poor performance overall, set the seal on success in stoppage-time.
Clarets’ manager Anthony Jupp admitted afterwards: "We possibly went from one of our best team performances, winning at Epsom & Ewell, to one of our worst. We started very badly with AFC Hayes dominating possession and deservedly leading 1-0 at half-time and it probably should have been more.
"We lost Ben Herdman to a groin injury just before half-time and Lewis Forsdick to his hamstring injury in the first 20 minutes which never helped.
"At half-time I decided to change shape and go to a 3-5-2 formation and we were a lot better but still under par. But overall it was not a good performance from us with a few more injuries to look at as well unfortunately. "
The hosts started sluggishly, being punished after only six minutes when Bradley Hand shot home, beating goalkeeper George Hyde following Charles’ through ball, Hand having evaded captain Adam Pullin’s challenge.
Dominant AFC Hayes went on to control the opening 70 minutes, Charles hitting the woodwork after 56 minutes and Hand, who could have had a hat-trick or even a double hat-trick, suffering the same fate on the hour mark.
Add in two superb goal-line clearances by skipper Pullin and numerous misses by the visitors and you get the one-sided picture.
Yet Nadesan equalised on 71 minutes, latching onto returning Ryan Brackpool’s pass before being denied by goalkeeper Bobby Khiara but snapping up the rebound. After 88 minutes Asa Curtis’ astute through ball released Nadesan who rounded Khiara and shot home for 2-1. Success was sealed in the fifth of eight stoppage-time minutes when Curtis combined with Nadesan whose superb run saw him cross from the right for Robson to add the final touch.
Horley Town: George Hyde, Scott Robson, Jack Poplett, Liam Giles (Bailey Rumbelow 65 min), Adam Pullin (capt), Lewis Forsdick (Liam Cox 40 min), Ashley Nadesan, Ben Herdman (Ryan Brackpool 22 min), Asa Curtis, James Clarke, Connor Power. Unused sub: Ben Cotton.