The Magpies went into the first local derby of the season looking for their first league win of the season after a series of late-on set-backs. They knew it would be difficult against a free-scoring Horsham YMCA side who had only dropped their first points of the season on Saturday. There were two changes to the side that lost in injury time at Wick with Adam Williams returning from injury to replace Ollie Gill and Clyde Jacques returning from Mauritian international duty to slot in for the injured Eddie French.
It was evident from the first whistle that the hosts were in a determined mood to banish their stuttering start to the Premier Division campaign, with their renowned passing game providing territorial pressure but not quite resulting in clear-cut chances being fashioned. They had to wait until the 15th minute until they were presented with the clearest of opportunities. After good work from Sam Beard down the left he drove into the box before feeding Toby House. The young striker tried to evade the oncoming challenge but was taken down and a penalty was awarded and Beard duly stepped up to dispatch it to grasp the lead.
This spurred the visitors into life and in the 25th minute a free kick won in a dangerous area was well struck and Sam Smith (above), who had a short spell at YM, had to be alert to palm the effort away. Whilst the visiting pressure persisted, the Magpies remained threatening on the counter-attack, with Byron Napper going closest, just failing to reach a ball across the goal mouth in the 30th minute.
The captain on the night didn't have to wait too long to get on the scoresheet though as in the 37th minute more good work by Beard on the left resulted in an exquisite ball being put in to the box and Napper expertly times his leap to enable him to power a header home and double the lead and that's how it remained come half time.
The hosts weren't to rest on their laurels when the second half started as they sought to attack their visitors again from the off. Yet another cross from Beard on the left following a corner caused chaos in the box and with just 3 minutes played, it was Michael Wood on hand this time to hit the back of the net for his third in three starts.
This prompted a similar scenario to the first half with the visitors forced to attack and their hosts content to hit them swiftly on the break. Amidst some neat inter-play chances came and went for House, Beard, Napper and Harry Bachelor to score the fourth but it just wouldn't come. As if it was needed, YM soon served a reminder of their potency when Smith had to be at his best to save a fierce strike from relatively close range and it wasn't to be his last telling intervention of the evening.
Nevertheless, the 4th goal did come to secure the 3 points, with Mark Cave coming off the bench (replacing House) to dispatch a knock-down from Bachelor with his first touch and claim his 5th of the season (4th in the league). It could so easily have been 5 soon after as Beard forced Fox in the YMCA goal to be at his best when turning his drilled shot on to the post.
The visitors refused to lie down though: firstly Smith was swiftly off his line to close down former Magpie Dean Wright and pressuring him into pushing his effort wide; and secondly Joel Colbran had to be alert at the death to make an exceptional clearance to preserve a clean sheet that had been hard fought for and was duly secured moments later.
This was a performance that had been coming from the Magpies. Their pedigree had been shown in patches over the first month of the season but tonight it came together for a more prolonged period and the 3 points were well deserved as a result. A trip to an in-form Hassocks side on Non-League Day now follows on Saturday with a degree of momentum that all will be keen to maintain.
Team: Bachelor (Swaine 75), S Beard, Colbran, House (Cave 61), Jacques, Napper, Scally, Smith, Summerfield, Williams & Wood (Ramsey 72) Subs unused: Hilfiker & Jee