Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division
Colliers Wood United 2 Horley Town 0
IF aspiring heavyweights Horley Town really do have ambitions to become future champions they must climb back off the canvas after being floored by two knockout punches during this dismal defeat at Wibbandune Sports Ground on Saturday.
Their lack of squad strength was exposed ruthlessly, with manager Anthony Jupp and first team coach Matt Chapman having to name themselves as unused substitutes to complete a patched up travelling party which looked distinctly that – patched up.
Clarets’ boss Jupp admitted afterwards: "We have had a good run and it had to come to an end. It was an under par performance but an under strength squad. We had lots of changes due to injuries, illnesses and unavailable players.
"It was a bad day at the office but at least other results went our way and no one gained ground on us."
Clarets remained fifth following this setback, while their hosts climbed into sixth spot in the table, being one point behind their rivals, although The Wood have played five games more than Jupp’s side.
"The first half was very even with few chances. Colliers Wood United started brightly for the first 10 minutes but then we found our feet and were slightly the better team in possession for the remainder of the first half.
"In the second half the game opened up slightly, but we looked tired and slightly sluggish. They took the lead and we did not really reply from that.
"But hopefully we have a few players returning to the squad soon to strengthen us up again."
Jupp rightly saluted experienced goalkeeper George Hyde as the Clarets’ man of the match, producing two superb saves, while 18 year old midfielder Jamie Hardwick was also deservedly singled out for special praise along with captain Adam Pullin.
Left back Ryan Brackpool also enjoyed a sterling performance, having to replace unavailable outstanding left-back Jack Poplett.
Jupp added: "It was really good also to see our injured and suspended players - Lewis Forsdick, James Clarke and Connor Power - travelling to support our team and I also thought that we had a great crowd following us again."
Prolific scorer Mario Embalo broke the deadlock after 55 minutes, shooting home at the far post, giving Hyde no chance following Hanif Charles-Berry’s through ball which split the visitors’ three-man defence wide open.
Worse was to follow after 88 minutes when Embalo sealed success, celebrating his decisive brace, rounding Hyde at the near post before finding the net despite Pullin’s desperate attempted goal-line clearance, this time having been picked out by fellow prolific striker Dan Harding whose astute through ball again opened up Horley’s rearguard as they failed to learn their lessons following the first goal.
Hyde had to make outstanding saves to deny Harding’s 30 yarder which was destined for the top corner of the net after 32 minutes, turning the ball round the far post for a corner, and then repeating the feat to deny Theo Woodhouse after 69 minutes following fine inter passing with Harding.
Defender Liam Cox also made a couple of vital blocks but this was an apology of a performance devoid of any midfield or attacking creativity from which massive lessons must be learned. It was simply not good enough at this level.
Horley Town: George Hyde, Scott Robson, Ryan Brackpool, John Eldred, Adam Pullin (capt), Liam Cox, Jamie Hardwick, Liam Giles (Tyler Barnard 53 min), Asa Curtis (Jordan Nevin 63 min), Ashley Nadesan, Richard Wetton (Nathan Jupp 77 min). Unused subs: Matt Chapman, Anthony Jupp.