Aldershot and Farnham head coach Ian Jennings criticised Horsham’s conduct after the Shots fell to a shock 3-2 defeat at their lowly opponents in hockey’s South East Premier Division last Saturday (March 18).

A&F had led 2-0 but the home side rallied to claim the points.

Despite the result, Jennings praised his side’s first-half performance.

“The players in the first half gave me everything I asked for against a very physical and bullish opposition and their discipline – despite their opponents’ behaviour – was a testament to the things we are trying to control,” he said.

“We try to play a certain style of hockey – fast, skilful and team orientated.

“However, when the game dissolves into nothing but stop and start, with inconsistency across the control of the game – which sadly is uncontrollable for us – it makes it extremely difficult.

“I would certainly expect myself and my players to receive cards if, on the pitch and the bench, we behaved in the same way as was displayed by our opponents. It seems we are given the same punishment for minor offences as if we had been behaving unruly all game. However, there is nothing we can do about it at this current time.”

Jennings still hopes his side can achieve a top-four finish.

“We will continue to push as hard as we can with our focus on the things we can control to try to secure nine points from our remaining three games,” he said. “We will just have to see where that leaves us.

“Irrespective, I think we should feel very proud of our achievements so far this season and providing we can put certain things in place, then the future bodes well.”

Following last week’s strong performance against Old Georgians, A&F were confident of picking up a win at Horsham.

The visitors started brightly, pressing hard and having the best of the possession. However, the first chance fell to the home side following some sloppy play from A&F. Kevin McCafferty was too loose on the ball in the left-hand channel and coughed up possession to the Horsham forward line. The hosts burst through on goal but could only shoot wide.

A&F were quick to reply as an aerial from the back was chased down by Zac Chinn. He drove along the baseline on the left-hand side and was able to pick out a sliding Phil Rushmere to give A&F the lead.

The visitors then doubled their lead. Patience around the back opened up holes further downfield, which meant Tom Herring could pick out Stu Morhall in an advanced position. Morhall worked his way along the baseline and pulled the ball back to find Josh Frost, who calmly scored his first goal of the season.

The second goal settled A&F, and they reached half-time with a comfortable 2-0 lead.

However, the break seemed to disrupt the visitors as mistakes crept in. This was despite a number of green cards being awarded to the opposition for poor tackles, giving A&F a numerical advantage.

A&F created little, being restricted to a penalty corner that was saved and a good chance which fell to Paddy Craddon.

The visitors were made to pay for their lacklustre display. A green card was awarded to Craddon and Horsham pulled a goal back when a ball in from the right was deflected over Hamish Hall’s shoulder and into the roof of the net.

Horsham were hampered by poor discipline. Two yellow cards followed, but the waves of attacks kept coming as they committed men forward in a desperate attempt to gain vital points in their survival battle.

The hosts won a number of penalty corners, the first of which A&F kept out well. However, the last penalty corner was converted through a slick routine to make it 2-2.

A&F were rocking and still couldn’t get any sort of foothold into the game.

Back to a full complement of players, Horsham were flying – throwing all they had at the A&F rearguard. They were gifted another numerical advantage when Jonny Groves was yellow carded for hitting the ball away. Horsham dealt A&F the killer blow with two minutes remaining. A Horsham centre-back threaded a ball through to a midfielder in the D, who pushed the ball towards the corner on the turn and it bobbled its way through two players and into the corner past an unsighted Hall.

A&F welcome Blackheath & Elthamians to Heath End today (Saturday).

Kevin McCafferty