Terry Dodd hit a brace on his return from suspension to give Horsham a narrow 2-1 win over a battling Arundel side tonight.
Goals either side of half-time from the striker saw him hit back after serving his three-man ban to keep the Hornets top of the Premier Division.
It was a vital win with Eastbourne Town’s decimation of East Preston in East Sussex, although made nervy when Arundel substitute Harry Russell pulled a goal back with just over 15 minutes left.
The home side made three changes from the team that beat Lancing on Saturday as Brad Lewis dropped to the bench, while Mark Knee (work) and Ash Jones (injured) were also missing.
Ryan Storrie, Dodd and Jordan Clark, a surprise inclusion having left for Worthing earlier in the season, all came into the starting line-up.
Horsham got on the front foot from the off and a teasing Kieran Pamment cross was nodded behind and his follow-up corner caused havoc in the box but was then cleared.
The visitors grew into the game and had the first real effort on 11 minutes as Lewis Jenkins fired a low ball into Dave Herbert, who did well to get the ball under control, and then turned and fired at Gareth Williams, who managed to parry.
Just two minutes later, James Fernandes made a good stop to deny Darren Boswell after a counter-attacking move.
Stand-in centre-back Pamment thren threaded Dodd, who slipped one outside the full-back for Evan Archibald and his deep cross found an unmarked Boswell, but Fernandes raced out to smother.
At the other end, Josh Biggs should have made more of his lobbed effort when Williams headed a clearance to him around 30 yards from goal after a ball over the top.
The Hornets took the lead on 19 minutes in somewhat fortuitous circumstance as Dodd brought the ball forwards and an Arundel centre-back missed a tackle and the returning Horsham striker poked home.
Nine minutes later Fernandes was alert to tip over a dipping trademark Boswell shot from the left.
Opposite number Williams preserved the home side’s lead on 33 minutes as he managed to push a close-range glancing header from Alex Biggs around the post.
A lovely Herbert pass then put Josh Biggs away down the middle as he was allowed too much space and his low effort from outside the box whistled just past the post.
Dodd spurned a glorious chance to make it 2-0 six minutes into the second half when he spun on a Joe Shelley pass on the edge of the box to go through one one on, but he then dragged wide.
The Horsham forward then saw an angled-effort from the byline palmed away by Fernandes and he then pushed over the resulting corner, again from Dodd.
With Arundel not finding their attacking stride as they did in the first half, the Hornets doubled their lead just past the hour mark.
Neat interplay between Boswell and Archibald saw the latter slot Storrie in past his full-back and Dodd’s glancing header from his cross found the near far corner.
Arundel did however pull a goal back on 73 minutes as substitute Russell headed home at the near post from a lovely Herbert delivery from a free-kick.
Both sides had penalty appeals waved away as Boswell went down under a challenge in the Arundel box, while at the other end Williams clattered into Russell just outside the box when the ball had been played away.
A nervy final moments ensued for the home side with last week’s second-half capitulation against Loxwood in their minds as Arundel smelt blood.
But Horsham held out for a hard-working triumph ahead of their clash with St Francis Rangers on Saturday.
Horsham: Williams, Duncan, Farmer, Clark, Storrie, Pamment, Shelley, Hunt, Boswell (Rowe-Hurst 90), Archibald (Lewis 68), Dodd (Smith 83). Unused subs: Atkinson, Keehan.
Arundel: Fernandes, N.Da Costa, O’Hagan, Dudas, Jenkins, L.Da Costa, Thoms (R.Biggs 68), A.Biggs, Nicholson, J.Biggs (Russell 59), Herbert (Peake 80). Unused subs: Adams, Marsden.
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