It had been over five months since the Hillians faithful has seen their team in action, and plenty made the trip to witness a good display as Jay Lovett named a strong starting line-up which featured four of his summer signings.
It was the hosts who started the better of the two sides, and they nearly opened the scoring when an audacious lob beat Josh James but thankfully cannoned off the base of the post and away to safety. After twenty minutes, the Hillians hit the post themselves, as Charlie Bennett caught the Horley defence napping, but from a tight angle smashed his effort against the outside of the upright. James was further called upon to make two vital saves to keep the scores level. In the 42nd minute, Nathan Cooper notched his second goal of pre-season – capitalising on Horley’s failure to clear a corner. Just three minutes later, the lead was doubled, as the lively Martyn Box’s pull-back was smashed home by Pat Harding.
Lovett made all seven changes at the break and the Hillians picked up from where they ended the first half, as substitute Alex Laing turned in Harry Reed’s low cross just four minutes after the restart. In the 56th minute, Cooper grabbed his second of the evening, heading home from an inswinging corner. The scoreline perhaps flattered the Hillians somewhat, and frustrations began the boil over for the hosts, as two players clashed in an off-the-ball incident – resulting in a red card. As the evening drew to a close, Laing and Reece Bowers-Williams nearly grabbed the Hillians a fifth, but both efforts were denied by the Clarets stopper.
More vital minutes secured for Jay Lovett’s men and a pleasing away clean sheet.
Next up, fans return to the newly-named More Than Tyres Stadium, as we welcome Cray Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.
Report by Jack Naldrett.