Horsham game one report
match report by Taimour Lay, photo by Simon Roe
Here's to you, Tommy Kavanagh.... When I interviewed Kav in November 2019 at King George's Field about his three spells at K's, he joked that he always seemed to score against his former clubs. There was one goal following his return to Dulwich that stuck in our minds. As soon as the draw was made for this game, it seemed inevitable that he would contribute something significant to the tie. Even as the second-half wore on, and K's remained 1-0 up, a disciplined Hornets side resolutely remained in the game and awaited their chance. It came with 10 minutes left on the clock. A mix-up in defence allowed Kavanagh clear and he struck a clean left-foot shot past his good friend Rob Tolfrey (the website only last week had printed a picture of the two proud dads with their daughters...) Such is the respect with which Kavanagh is held at K's, there wasn't a boo to be heard as he celebrated with a jump and a fist-pump, a sincere joy with which no one could quibble. And perhaps it felt like vindication too, having been released in the summer.
As for K's, for long periods we dominated this tie and a 1-0 win would have felt fair. Having said that, it did take a penalty, our 5th of the season, to put us ahead after half-time, the Horsham No9 inexplicably handling a corner. Jason Banton calmly converted and thoughts were turning to the next round and dreams of an away trip to Jersey in the sunshine (albeit we in fact got handed Eastbourne Town in Tolworth).
After the bad league defeat to Wingate, this draw constituted another blip/hiccup/bump in the road/K's crisis (perpetual since circa 2002). But even when not winning, Hayden Bird's K's are always at least doing the right things in the right way and giving 100%. Pre-Bird, K's used to fail to win in a variety of ways (comical thrashings, lost leads, grim concessions at Harrow), now we tend not to win (when we don't win) in a similar-ish way (possession and half-chances without racking up goals coupled by the odd lapse at the back). I'd choose the latter over the former, because there is hope in pattern and plan and progress. Discuss.
The return of Nyren Clunis, consistently excellent on the right, is a boon, while Daniel Ajakaiye looks a potent threat just in need of a decent through-ball (please, no one mention that Kav pass at Lewes...) It will come, though it hasn't perhaps come as soon as we might have wished.
But, let's not forget, we're still top of the league...
Horsham: Sam Howes, Alex Laing, Harvey Sparks, Doug Tuck, Alex Malins, Danny Dudley, Lee Harding, Tom Kavanagh, Jack Brivio, Charlie Harris, Tom Richards.
Subs: Steve Metcalf (for Charlie Harris, HT), Gary Charman (for Alex Malins, 29m), Eddie Dsane (for Gary Charman, 67m), Lucas Rodrigues, Chris Smith.
Goal scorers: Jason Banton (60m pen, 1-0), Tom Kavanagh (83m, 1-1)