The First Team turned in another disappointing performance on Tuesday night when they crashed out of the Southern Combination Challenge Cup at the hands of Combined Counties Premier South side Horley Town.
For twenty minutes though there was no indication of a cupset, as Rovers dominated play and stormed into a 2-0 lead courtesy of a Nabeel Ghannam double.
Horley were showing the occasional signs of what was to come later, as good link up play between former SCR legend Phil Page and Tobi Falodi ended with a dangerous low cross being well defended, and from the quick break, Ben Holden fired an effort straight at Horley keeper George Hyde.
Page saw a shot blocked on 8 minutes, and four minutes later Rovers struck the first blow, a low strike by Ghannam deflecting beyond Hyde for 1-0. It was 2-0 two minutes later, this time a poor Hyde clearance only found Ghannam, who cut inside and curled the ball into the bottom right corner, and Rovers were flying.
Horley responded positively, forcing a couple of corners and seeing a low Page free kick fly wide of the right hand post. Jake Roberts saw an effort well saved by James Dillon, low down to his right, on 28 minutes and Sam Harper should have done better when set free by Page but was well marshalled by Bert Lloyd and Holden and the chance went begging. It really should have been 2-1 five minutes before the break, Dan Stone broke quickly on the left and his low cross was fired goalwards by Page but superbly saved by Dillon from point blank range.
Rovers didn’t heed the warning though and Horley were back in the game minutes before the interval. Page was again instrumental with a great touch and through ball to Josh Alder who fired beyond a slipping Dillon to send the sides in at the break with Rovers 2-1 to the good.
An injury to Daryl Coleman saw him replaced at half time, with Aaron Jenkins entering the fray in his place, and a reshuffle taking place in the Rovers line up. Conan Torpey and Holden both found their way into the book for fouls as the second half started in a scrappy, feisty style.
Ten minutes into the half and both sides had chances to add to their tally. First up Max Oldham released Torpey, but having shrugged off several defenders he was denied by Hyde, and at the other end Rovers were cut open and Harper saw his shot saved by Dillon.
Jenkins was denied by a good Hyde save after he had been released by Ash Sheppard, and from a long throw by Holden on the hour Lloyd’s header was weak and easily dealt with by the home backline.
Rovers were probably having their best spell since the start of the game, and from a Courtney Swaby corner, Ghannam saw an effort blocked with Sheppard firing the loose ball wide from 25 yards. Midway through the half and Harper curled an effort just wide of the left hand post, and Rovers made their second change with Torpey making way for Gabriel Odunaike.
With 20 to go a lightning Horley break saw Harper race clear before being denied by Dillon, with the rebound somehow going wide, with the aid of a Lloyd deflection. The signs were there though and you got the feeling it was only a matter of time before Horley struck.
A spate of bookings followed with Odunaike, for something he said, and Stone for hauling down a charging Oldham. Scores were level with 15 minutes remaining, Oldham drifted across the Horley box and found Jenkins, his shot was blocked, and from a launched clearance Harper latched onto the ball and fired home.
It was instantly worse for Rovers, a mix up between Sheppard and Swaby gifted Horley possession, and a neat ball found Alder again who rolled beyond Dillon for 3-2 and the comeback was complete for the hosts. In the aftermath of the goal, Tanton found his way into the book for disputing an offside decision.
Charlie Martin replaced Oldham, and Sam Morgan was dismissed from the bench as tempers frayed. We laid siege to the Horley goal in the dying minutes, and twice Hyde was on hand to make a couple of decent stops. Firstly going away to his right to turn a Ghannam free kick wide, and from the resulting corner, moving sharply to his right to block a close range effort.
Full time came with the hosts through to face Virginia Water/Epsom & Ewell.