Horsham move level on points with third-placed Ashford United with derby win over Three Bridges

Kieran Lavery netted Horsham's first-half goal. Picture by John Lines
Kieran Lavery netted Horsham's first-half goal. Picture by John Lines

Horsham moved level on points with third-placed Ashford United by beating local rivals Three Bridges at Culver Road this afternoon.

Goals from Kieran Lavery and Jack Brivio secured a 2-0 victory in the Bostik League South East Division derby clash.

It was fairly comfortable for the play-off chasing hosts against a side that had beat them 2-1 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

Bridges were fairly toothless up front with a lack of supply to the forwards, but were in the game until Horsham, who spurned a host of good chances, killed the game off with ten minutes to play through Brivio.

That added to Lavery's first-half goal which game Horsham a deserved 1-0 lead at the break. And with Ashford falling to a 2-1 defeat at Herne Bay, Horsham moved level with them on 48 points.

Bridges, who have not won in 2019, came into the game on a lengthy lay off having not had a game last weekend - losing 4-2 to Haywards Heath last time out the previous Tuesday.

Horsham made one change to the side that drew at VCD Athletic last weekend with Dean Lovegrove coming in to replace the unavailable George Hayward. There was also a place on the bench for new addition, former Crystal Palace youngster Dan Hogan.

Three Bridges handed debuts to new signings Dean Gunner and Reece Hallard, who joined the club during the week from East Grinstead and Whitehawk respectively. They also included former Horsham players James Shaw and George Gaskin within their ranks.

The first chance arrived on ten minutes when Steve Metcalf's sliding ball down the channel was latched onto by Chris Smith, but his flicked angled effort was blocked by Shaw and ran across the face of goal.

The hosts had muted penalty appeals waved away soon after when Rob O'Toole went down under pressure from Antone Douglas as he tried to head a Lee Harding cross goalwards.

The opening goal came on 18 minutes when Harvey Sparks did well to keep the ball in play from a Josh Pelling kick on the right. He headed it into Harding who run the length of the Bridges have and teed-up Lavery, who poked past former Horsham goalkeeper Shaw.

The hosts had the ball in the back of the net for a second time as Smith curled into the top corner from the edge of the box, but the flag was up for an offside in the build up.

The Hornets were forced into an early change on 25 minutes as Will Miles pulled up with what looked like a hamstring pull and was replaced by Dylan Merchant.

Bridges' first chance saw Connor French head wide and soon after Hallard attempted an early lob as he latched onto a ball over the top, but it bounced wide when something on target would have posed Pelling a problem.

On the half-hour mark, Lovegrove took a touch in space and launched a 30-yard effort towards goal, but it was a comfortable take for Pelling.

As the home side started to take control, Sparks put Smith away down the left and he skipped away from Liam Collins to put the ball right across the face of goal, but an onrushing Harding failed to get a touch to put it away.

Harding then raced away from Collins and then beat Brannon O'Neill as he cut-back in the box, only to see his curled effort fly narrowly wide.

On 38 minutes, Pelling produced a diving save to hold a Gaskin volley from the edge of the box and on the stroke of half-time, the stopper was again down well to stop a low French shot.

Smith somehow missed a golden chance on 53 minutes. Harding did well again on the left and got a low ball across the box which took a slight deflection, but the arriving Smith had an open goal and a tap-in, but it somehow went through his legs.

Bridges soon replaced Antone Douglas with Ibby Akanbi and he was straight into the action breaking on the left and driving into the box, but his miscued his shot and it flew badly wide.

Another big chance was spurned on the hour mark as Smith broke the defensive line and had time and space to cut-back for Lavery, but he blazed over from 12 yards with the goal at his mercy.

Soon after Jack Brivio picked up a loose ball, pushed it in front of him and sent a low effort narrowly wide from 22 yards.

At the other end, Bridges were inches away from making Horsham pay for their missed chances as a stretching Gaskin failed to get a touch on a decent ball to the back post.

Horsham finally killed the game off in the 79th minute thanks to some unselfish play from substitute Tyrell Richardson-Brown. He raced forward on the left at the last defender, but teed up Brivio to his right, who had joined the attack, and he slotted past Pelling.

Horsham: Pelling, Metcalf, Shelley, Miles (Merchant 25), Sparks, Lovegrove (Kirkwood 83), Brivio, O'Toole, Harding, Lavery (Richardson-Brown 67), Smith. Unused subs: Hogan, Baxter.

Three Bridges: Shaw, Collins, Gunner, Douglas, Simpson, Ufah (Akanbi 58), Grant, O'Neill, Gaskin (McKenzie 67), Hallard, French. Unused subs: Glloga.

Referee: Mike Desborough.