Hastings United vs. Horsham HERO

Horsham make history at the Amex

Words by Luke Ashbery
Hastings United 0-3 Horsham

Last night belonged to Horsham, as they lifted the Sussex Transport Senior Cup for the first time in 48 years, after comfortably beating Hastings United 3-0 at the Amex Stadium.

Reece Myles-Meekums and Shamir Fenelon were both on target in the first-half, before top-scorer Daniel Ajakaiye put the game out of Hastings reach in the 68th minute after a long free-kick found Fenelon, and he turned brilliantly and played in Ajakaiye who tucked his finish into the bottom corner past Charlie Grainger.

Horsham started the game in imperious fashion, with the opener coming in the seventh minute, when Myles-Meekums played a one-two with Lucas Rodrigues, which found Myles-Meekums inside the penalty area, with time to curl his shot into the far corner from a tight angle leaving Grainger with no chance. 

In the 33rd minute, it was two, with Horsham patiently working the ball from the left across to Lee Harding, with his cross to the back post finding Rodrigues who managed to nod back across goal to Fenelon in the six-yard box with the striker guiding his header into the bottom corner. 

Hastings only registered two shots in the first-half, the first saw Adam Lovatt sky his effort over the bar under pressure from the Horsham defence before Davide Rodari also found the stands from a 25-yard free-kick. 

The 42nd minute saw another great chance for Horsham as Fenelon went one-on-one with Grainger, but the keeper managed to parry the shot with the rebound not quite falling back to the Horsham man. 

Horsham had two chances within the first minute after the restart, the first through Myles-Meekums with his curling effort from outside the area striking the post, before Ajakaiye went one-on-one with Grainger but he dragged his left-footed shot harmlessly wide. 

Myles-Meekums maybe should have had a second in the 55th minute after playing a one-two with Ajakaiye and rounding Grainger, but the forward just couldn’t sort out his feet quickly enough, and a heavy touch saw the ball go behind for a goal-kick. 

After Horsham had made it three, Hastings had their best chance of the game, with Tommie Fagg heading over the bar on the stretch after John Ufuah cut inside and crossed to the back post in the 75th minute. 

Shortly after, Horsham might have made it four with Ajakaiye running into the area on the right before flashing across the box, but the waiting Myles-Meekums was denied by Freddie Legg who tracked back and managed to clear. 

As the final minutes of extra-time ticked down, Hastings had a half-chance for a mere consolation after Ufuah did well down the left and cut back to Sam Adams who laid off to Fagg, but he dragged his shot hopelessly wide ¬- just about summing up Hastings’ evening. 

Rodari was starved of service for large parts of the game up-front for Hastings, with Lewis Carey not having a single save of note to make all evening in the Horsham goal.

Horsham were well-deserved winners capping off their season with some silverware after they lost in the semi-final of the play-offs and reached The Emirates FA Cup second round for only the second time in the club's 142-year history. 

At full-time, Dom Di Paola, the Horsham manager, said: “I thought we were brilliant, you could see in the player’s eyes in the changing room that they were focused, and we didn’t need to do much as a management team to fire them up.

“I thought we were unlucky to lose the play-off semi-final and we needed this one to rescue our season despite the FA Cup and FA Trophy runs.

“It was the perfect end to the season in a brilliant venue and in a competition we have been desperate to win as a football club for close to 50 years!” 

Hastings United vs. Horsham
Hastings United vs. Horsham - 08-05-24
Highlights from the Sussex Transport Senior Cup Final - powered by Your Instant Replay!

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)

(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)

Stats (Hastings United-Horsham): Goals (0-3), Shots on Target (6-10), Corners (6-4), Fouls (7-7), Offsides (1-1), Yellow Cards (2-4), Red Cards (0-0).

Hastings United: Grainger (GK), Lubanga, Rodari, Adams, Ufuah, Fagg, Walker, Lovatt (C), Legg, Mongoy, Gale.
Subs: Krokhin, Janneh, Harley, Clifford, Jenks.

Horsham: Carey (GK), Harding, Sparks, Barker, Strange, Brivio (C), Hammond, Rodrigues, Fenelon, Ajakaiye, Myles-Meekums.
Subs: Philpot, Price, Tuck, Hester-Cook, Mazzone.

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