After back-to-back victories, the Blues find themselves heading into yet another crucial clash on Saturday, this time away at Horsham.
Horsham were promoted into the Isthmian Premier League in 2018-19 and since joining this level they haven’t looked back with solid performances during two COVID-impacted seasons followed by 11th in 2021-22 and 7th last season, narrowly missing out on a playoff place by only 2 points.
This season, Horsham currently sit in 10th place with 42 points (12 wins, 6 draws and 6 defeats) from 24 matches so far. The Hornets have as many as 5 games in hand over some of the teams above them, and sit 6 points outside of the playoffs at the time of writing, meaning that if they manage to continue their current form they are likely to be one of many clubs pushing for a playoff spot as the season moves into spring.
The Hornets find themselves with such a large number of games in hand due to two excellent cup runs. Firstly in the FA Cup where they reached the 2nd Round Proper before being knocked out by League Two side Sutton United. To get to this stage, the Sussex side beat Marlow, Hanworth Villa, Dorking Wanderers before getting a reprieve against Barnsley due to Barnsley fielding an ineligible player. Take nothing away, however, from the fact that the Hornets managed to take Barnsley to a replay thanks to an amazing 3-3 draw at Oakwell.
Further to this, Horsham managed to reach the 4th Round (Last 32) of the FA Trophy before being knocked out by National League North side Peterborough Sports in January. Both cup runs will provide additional funds for the Hornets as they look to push their way up the Isthmian Premier League.
Did you know?
It wasn't that long ago that Horsham reached the Second Round Proper of the FA Cup prior to this season, facing Swansea City in 2007-08 and taking them to a replay after a 1-1 draw in front of nearly 3,000 fans at their previous Queen Street stadium before succumbing 6-2 at the Liberty Stadium.
Head To Head
Back in October, Horsham visited the Maurice Rebak Stadium on a Tuesday night but it was the Blues who retained all 3 points with a 2-0 win that night thanks to goals from Ruben Carvalho and Elliot Long. In our last match in Sussex, Horsham took the victory, winning 2-0 this time last year after late drama where a missed Blues penalty in the 90th minute was followed by a converted penalty and a rapid second goal for Horsham in time added on at the end of the 90.
Last Time Out
Horsham come into Saturday's game off the back of 3 wins on the bounce; 2-0 at home against Potters Bar Town, 2-1 away at Hashtag United and most recently 2-0 at Hastings United on Tuesday night. In fact their last defeat in the league was on New Year's Day - losing 1-0 at home to Whitehawk.
Players To Watch
Horsham’s goals this season have been spread throughout the side, but since the turn of the year it has been experienced forward Jack Mazzone who has contributed most highly in the goalscoring books for the Hornets including a hat-trick in the Sussex Cup Quarter Final. Top scorer Daniel Ajakaiye has been missing through injury in 2024 so far. Horsham's most recent signing was in defence, bringing in central defender Isaac Philpot on loan from Marc White's Dorking Wanderers.
For the Blues, loanee Alex Solomon put in a shift in defence in a slightly unusual position and Ahmet Rifat will be looking for more of the same from him on Saturday - hear more from Alex in his post-match interview below.
Look out on social media for more details of our live radio commentary which will be travelling down to Horsham - tune in if you're unable to make the trip!
Photos courtesy of Martin Addison