A Saturday afternoon in the middle of, what had now been, a 4 week heatwave, took me on a first ever visit to Surrey’s New Defence Stadium, home of Horley Town of the Combined Counties Premier League. They were drawn in the Extra qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup, against Sevenoaks Town FC of the Isthmian League (South East Division).
The New Defence ground was opened in 2003 and named the “New Defence” after the club’s previous “the Defence” ground, which had been named after those who fought to defend the UK in World War 2. The ground holds 1800 at capacity, with seating for 101. The pitch is a grass surface, which looked in good health, given the drought conditions recently. The site has ample free parking and the ground has high quality floodlighting.
Sevenoaks Town looked to be slipping out of the Isthmian League last season before with just ten games left, appointing Harry Hudson as manager from Glebe FC. Hudson produced miracles, clinching 26 out of 30 points available to take Sevenoaks out of the relegation race and upto a very credible 13th place. This season the mercurial Hudson, has added to his squad wisely and Sevenoaks, who have plans for major ground expansion, are really looking to push for at least a play off place.
Horley Town are managed by Martin Rapson who was appointed in the close season. Rapson has kept five first team regulars from last season, taken five youth players into the squad and added some new signings as Horley look to further improve.
The game commenced with Sevenoaks Town on the attack from the off. Their passing play was effective and defensively they looked well set up as a unit. Horley Town looked anxious and found it hard early on, to deal with the direct passing style of Sevenoaks.
In just the fifth minute, Sevenoaks pressure paid off with an opening goal by Yahya Bamba who took it around Hyde in the Horley Town goal to finish well and make it 0-1 to the Isthmian league side.
In the 30th minute after Horley Town had absorbed relentless Sevenoaks Town pressure, the away side extended the league with a fine finish from the edge of the area, by Kyle Da Silva, to make the score at the half time break 0-2.
The second half started in the same manner as the first had ended. In the 51st minute, after having much of the ball, Sevenoaks Town, extended the league to 3-0 with a well finished goal for Dan Hector.
On 55 minutes substitute Omari “Winja” Hibbert, was found in space from a free kick, to finish with a simple turn and shot to make it 0-4, as the game fell away from Horley Town.
Jake Roberts was dismissed for a bad tackle. On Sevenoaks Town’s Lesley Duru in the 57th minute as Horley’s frustration began to show.
Omari Hibbert added his second, with a well placed header, to make it 0-5 with nine minutes left. The goal sealed a fine Sevenoaks victory against a Horley Town side who never really gave up.
There was still time with five minutes in the clock to see Sevenoaks Town’s Danny Lear sent off, for a bad tackle inside the Horley Town penalty area. As the final whistle went it was Hudson’s Sevenoaks Town who progressed into the next round.