Signs of improvement failed to bear points in Sussex on Saturday as Invicta fell short against Horsham while manager Andy Drury will be left ruing 2 key decisions that went against his side.
With Joe Coleman suffering from a knock picked up on Tuesday night, former Gillingham keeper Stuart Nelson stepped in to wear the gloves in goal. Will Moses kept his place alongside Ian Gayle ahead of Jake Goodman who returned to the bench from being cup-tied on Tuesday, with Kane Penn and Toby Byron at fullback.
Seidou Sanogo, also cup-tied on Tuesday, made his debut in midfield alongside Ade Cole and Scott Heard with Chris Regis dropping to the bench, while the front 3 of Tom Derry, Joe Boachie and Ruben Soares-Junior who all made their debut on Tuesday all started.
As well as Goodman and Regis the bench consisted of forwards David Smith and Luke Holness as well as fullback Chris Sessegnon who will have to wait a little longer to make his debut for the club. Ira Jackson Jr missed out as he struggles with an injury.
Invicta displayed an early threat with Cole and Penn both delivering crosses from the right that failed to amount to anything to worry Lewis Carey in the Horsham goal before Shamir Fenelon unleashed the first effort of the afternoon, firing wide of Nelson’s right hand post from distance.
James Hammond hit an effort from a similar distance a few minutes later, this one close enough the force Nelson into a dive although the effort also headed wide of the post.
In the 14th minute Invicta’s new wingers combined with Boachie cutting inside front he right to find Soares-Junior in acres of space to run through on goal. The linesman’s flag quickly went up but replays show him to have been clearly onside.
Hammond drew the first save of the match with a free kick from 25 yards after a foul from Boachie that earned him a booking, but the effort was never a test for Nelson.
The first controversy of the afternoon came just before the half hour mark as Invicta were awarded a goal but strangely may well have preferred not to have been. Byron received the ball back form Soares-Junior having found the winger on the touchline before his underlapping run took him to the byline where he delivered to the back post for Derry to rise highest. The Invicta number 9 headed towards goal, only to see his effort strike the arm of.a defender in the 6 yard box before being saved by Carey. The linesman very quickly signalled that the balled had crossed the line. Very few inside the Camping World Community Stadium agreed with the decision to give the goal, although many will feel it would have been to Invicta’s advantage had they been given a penalty and seed the hosts reduced to 10 men instead.
Invicta soaked up pressure until the end of the first half with Nelson’s goal untroubled and Drury leading his team in and surely delighted with both the performance and scoreline.
Horsham came out flying at the start of the second half and created their first real opportunity of the afternoon inside a minute as a blocked shot fell to Reece Myles-Meekums at the back post but the winger pulled his effort wide.
Although Horsham would continue to dominate the ball, the early chance wasn’t an indication that the hosts would carve out a series of chances in the second half, so Invicta will certainly be disappointed with how the equaliser came about. A long ball in behind caught the Invicta defence with Nelson unable to get to it, Daniel Akajaiye was forced wide under pressure but eventually got off a shot that sailed into the empty net to level the score.
The setback didn’t manage to change the pattern of the game with Invicta defending resolutely under the 73rd minute when Horsham struck a fatal blow. Carey found a long pass to Lee Harding on the right hand side, the substitute carried the ball into the final third and slipped a ball in behind the Invicta defence for Shamir Fenelon to fire past Nelson.
Neither side truly threatened their opposing goalkeepers again until the final moments. Jack Mazzone fired over Nelson’s goal from the edge of the box as the hosts looked to seal the points.
The final moment of controversy came in injury time as Toby Byron burst into the penalty area onto the end of a return pass from Luke Holness that had deflected off Harding who then appeared the catch the Invicta left back, bringing him down. The referee immediately blew and singled for a free kick for Horsham, booking Byron for simulation.
There was still time for Invicta go go close at the death as Ruben Soares-Junior found himself in space inside the box but curled his effort just wide of the post with the final kick of the match.
Invicta will certainly have left Sussex happy with an improved performance while bemoaning what might have been on another day. Manager Andy Drury will have plenty to work on as we look towards a Thursday night friendly with Sittingbourne before we head into the Christmas fixtures at home to Hastings United (26th) and Hashtag United (30th).