Away cup match played on 04 October 2014.
Kicked off at 2:30 PM

A depleted Catsfield squad travelled to Horsham on Saturday to kick-off their Sussex Cup campaign. A thread bare squad of only 12 made the 50 mile trip in search of their first win of the season and when late news broke that top goal scorer, talisman and manager, Tony Luke, would be unavailable the already questionable morale plummeted further.

Team News

Work commitments omitted some of the usual squad, including T. Luke, J. Graham and R. Hart whilst N. Gurr and B. Newman were serving bans. D. Champion, D. Booth, L. Bradbury and long term absentee J. Baker all missed out through injury.

A. Winn made his competitive Catsfield debut in goal, a position in which he hasn’t played in over 10 years with regular fullback I. Swain playing in his usual left back role. The consistent Pete ‘Pistol’ Waughman slotted in at right back with N. Champion and M. Thomas partnering each other in central defence. This was the fifth different central pairing of the season for the Cats as the search for a clean sheet continued.

A change-up in midfield saw wingers H. Atkins and M. Rawlings get the nod in the right and left midfield positions respectively with centre midfield regular P. Rollison being partnered by the versatile G. Paffett in yet another centre midfield pairing.

C. White once again started in attack and was partnered for the second week in succession by S. Harris. The latter still in search of his first goal of the season after an eagerly awaited return from a long term knee injury.

Shaky Start

The patched up Catsfield side began as everyone thought they would, shaky. The youthful opposition were equally as cagey and the opening exchanges resulted in a lot of midfield action and scrappy, inaccurate passing from everyone on both teams.

Horsham won their first corner in the 10th minute and you could feel the tension rising within the Catsfield penalty box. The result was a goal as the corner found a Horsham head and the ball squirmed agonisingly past Winn and into the net to make it 1-0. The home sides lead was doubled minutes later when a through ball found the Horsham striker who rounded an onrushing Winn to then delicately chip it over the recovering defender and into the net – a terrible start for the Cats whose aim was to keep it tight for at least the first 20 minutes.

Glimmer of Hope

Catsfield almost responded immediately when the ball was half cleared from a Cats corner to the edge of the box where Paffett was lingering. His rasping left foot effort crashed off the underside of the crossbar, with the goalkeeper beaten, but it bounced on the wrong side of the goal line for the Cats and was ultimately cleared away.

The Cats kept plugging away and were the much better side as the half progressed and could count themselves extremely unlucky to be 2-0 down with the first half closing out. That was until the 40th minute when striker Harris clipped a delightful through ball over the Horsham defence to an onrushing Atkins on the right hand side of the box. His instant, one touch control was sublime and the ball was begging to be hit. Atkins’ second touch was a lashing effort

that fizzed past the goalkeeper and in to the net which brought some much needed relief for the Cats who could now go into half time with an incentive to come out all guns blazing in the second half.

Disaster almost struck in the final minute of the half though, as a mix up in the Catsfield defence let the Horsham striker have a one-on-one run-in on goal – luckily, Winn was alert to the danger and came rushing out to make an exquisite save to keep the score line remaining at 2-1 at the end of the first 45.

Comeback Complete

The second half started much like the first 45 ended, Catsfield dominating the possession despite no real goalmouth pressure. Another goal was never going to be too far away and it did indeed arrive in the 55th minute when a cross from the left hand side was only half cleared by the Horsham defence. It fell to Harris just inside the 18-yard box who duly controlled, then had to wait for what seemed like a decade for the ball to bounce before connecting with a swift, sharp half volley which slammed into the left hand side of the net to bring the Cats back level at 2-2.

In the next 20 minutes there were a succession of huge chances for the home side as their strikers found themselves in a one-on-one situation numerous times. A mixture of poor finishing and the exceptional Winn kept Horsham at bay. On 3 different occasions the Catsfield defence had to be alert to clear the ball off the line after Winn was beaten.

Horsham then had a strong penalty appeal denied, the referee was even seen putting the whistle to his lips before changing his mind and deciding no foul had taken place. At this point in the game you felt it was only a matter of time before the home side found the net again though.

It was, in fact, Catsfield who took the lead and completed the comeback in the 70th minute when another cross from the left was headed up rather than out by the Horsham defence – it fell to Rollison who was hovering around the penalty spot and his first time volley fizzed goalwards and the awkward bounce had the goalkeeper in all sorts of bother. It somehow found its way past him and into the net. In the grand scheme of things the Cats deserved the lead and were determined not to let it slip. The Cats then made their only available substitution with 17 year-old Liam Reus making his debut coming on for Atkins.

The third Catsfield goal seemed to knock all the stuffing out of the home side with Rollison and Paffett remaining dogged in the centre of midfield, challenging every ball and not letting the home side have a second on it. The defensive unit of the back four showed grit and determination – both Champion and Thomas putting in strong, important tackles and remaining calm on the ball once they won possession. Both fullbacks proved successful outlets for quickly taken goal kicks and moving the ball up the pitch efficiently. In fact, the entire Cats side pulled together and closed down the opposition resolutely and were determined not to let tiredness become a factor once again.

8 minutes after the 5th goal, the 6th arrived and once again it went in Catsfield’s favour. A scuffed shot from White on the edge of the box skidded through to the goalkeeper who could only parry it away and on to the post – it then fell in to the path of Reus who was following up to smash the rebound into the empty net.

In the remaining 10 or so minutes the Cats kept the ball moving, not allowing the opposition to have it. The game remained free of any major action in the final 10 minutes, just how the Cats wanted it, and the away sides performance was finally rewarded. The referee blew for full time and a sense of not only relief of a first win but pride in the way in which it was achieved filled throughout the Catsfield side.

They now go in to their encounter with Punnetts Town next week with a new found level of moral and are confident of getting their first league win under their belts. No one would want to be in manager Tony Luke’s shoes as he now faces a major selection headache as numerous players are due to return to the squad and are all fighting to be in the first XI. After what would definitely be called a disappointing start to the season, things are now categorically looking up for the Cats!

#UpTheCats #GunMetalGreys #WhereAreOurJackets?

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