Honours Even at Hop Oast

Horsham 1-1 Enfield Town

Enfield Town responded to Saturday’s disappointing home defeat with a much-improved second-half performance, as Reece Beckles-Richards’ late strike earned a share of the spoils on a frosty evening at Horsham.

There were wholesale changes to the lineup as boss Gavin Macpherson opted for a change in system. Herson Alves was introduced for a full debut at the tip of midfield, while Lewis Taaffe and Jonathan Hippolyte were handed starts as Marcus Wyllie, Reece Beckles-Richards and Dylan Adjei-Hersey settled for a place on a particularly chilly bench.

Horsham hitman Jack Mazzone had exchanged pleasantries with the Enfield management team pre-match, and it was he who almost landed the first blow to his former Met Police colleagues on six minutes after Horsham had stolen possession in their final third, but his eventual shot sailed harmlessly wide of Rhys Forster’s left-hand upright. From there, the pattern for a rather insipid first half was largely set; the hosts with lengthy spells of possession and Enfield happy to keep their shape and press with caution. On occasion, the visitors managed to spring upfield and send in a series of flighted crosses, though goalkeeper Lewis Carey and his defence went largely untroubled. Horsham captain Jack Brivio ventured forward and fed Tom Richards to swing in a cross which narrowly evaded a yellow shirt in the centre, before Brivio headed narrowly over from a corner kick, and Mazzone tested Forster with a low effort following a swift breakaway.

The fact that the Hornets’ skipper had attempted to lob Forster from some 40 yards would have been an apt summary of the attacking fortunes of either side first period, until the deadlock was eventually broken on 39 minutes. Horsham had found some joy spraying long passes into wide areas, and this time it bore fruit as Carey picked out Lee Harding who took one touch to kill the loose ball at the gallop and another to tee up Shamir Fenelon on the edge of the box for a tidy touch and shot off the left peg, which bounced out of Rhys Forster’s grasp and into the far corner.

Half Time: Horsham 1-0 Enfield Town

Town, unchanged but undeterred, continued as before the restart; maintaining discipline and attempting to mount sporadic counters in transition to little avail. It was the hosts initially who looked the likelier to extend their lead, not least when Reece Meekums stabbed a square ball straight at Forster from close range. Another low cross from Fenelon moments later required the Enfield goalie’s intervention once more to snap up in front of a host of Horsham forwards poised for a tap-in.

Slowly, however, the momentum began to shift as Town began to maintain possession and threaten their hosts with movement from off the flanks. Some combination play down the left allowed for Herson Alves to register Enfield’s first real shot just after the hour mark, followed soon after by Lewis Carey’s first assignment of the night; Joe Payne’s back post header tipped over the bar following a wicked corner kick from Alves.

A trio of changes; Beckles-Richards, Wyllie, and Obi Onyeagwara; were all introduced in the game’s closing stages as Town attempted to turn their foothold into an equaliser, and with ten minutes remaining they did just that. A neat interchange between Sam Youngs and Onyeagwara set the latter away to dink a cross across the face of goal and, with Carey stranded, Beckles-Richards arrived at the back stick to drill home at the near post from a tight angle.

With fresh legs, and buoyed by their equaliser, it was arguably Town who came the closest to a winner as the game ebbed away – not least when Scott Thomas sent Marcus Wyllie clean through, only for the striker to drag his eventual effort wide of the mark with just Carey in the goal to beat. As the match ticked over the four allocated additional minutes, its final moments saw Joe Payne’s hopeful ball nodded just beyond the post by Wyllie from a difficult angle, with the referee bringing to an end a contest which both sides may feel they ought to have won.

Town: Forster; Parcell, McKenzie, Richmond, Payne; Thomas, Youngs, Taaffe (Beckles-Richards 77′) , Alves, Knight (Onyeagwara 68′) ; Hippolyte (Wyllie 68′)

Attendance: 679