A late goal from Rob O’Toole earned Horsham a point at the Elmbridge Sports Hub, but it couldn’t spoil the celebrations for Walton Casuals.
After two years away from Waterside Drive, the Stags returned home to host Horsham and pulled in one of their biggest ever crowds.
With the stand packed with Casuals supporters eager to see the new ground and new team, it was a day to remember for all involved with the club.
Hopeful to please the crowd, Luke Holness almost broke the deadlock inside three minutes after knocking a Josh Kelly cross narrowly over the bar.
The roar of the crowd was something the hosts wouldn’t have heard for some time while playing in Merstham and Whyteleafe, but supporters soon erupted after 15 minutes.
A clever corner routine from Jack Battie found the path of Kelly and into the feet of Lartey Sarpong. Turning a defender on the edge of the box, Sarpong beat the keeper and slotted into the bottom corner to score the first ever goal at the Sports Hub.
A rapid free-kick from Scott Kirkwood edged wide of the mark with the visitors’ best chance of the half and they had goalkeeper Josh James to thank for his remarkable performance.
Holness, Kelly and McCormack all held their head in their hands after watching their efforts saved, and it should have been four by half-time if not for the number one.
Another chance fell to top scorer Kelly in a prime position, and after rounding the keeper he began to celebrate before the ball was knocked out for a corner.
The Stags dominated throughout the second half, and Kelly caused several problems for full-back Lewis Hyde. Winning a free-kick on the edge of the box, Battie’s whipped cross was headed just wide of the mark by stand-in captain Joe Hicks.
Battie also had a chance to double the lead minutes later, and managed to weave through two defenders before James halted the attack once more.
With the final whistle approaching, Horsham stepped up their attacks in search of a point – with Denzel Gerrar rarely tested after the break.
Toby House had a golden opportunity for the Hornets after beating the defence, but stumbled under pressure and was unable to make use of the chance.
However, Rob O’Toole could captivate on the tiredness of the full-backs and headed home an equaliser from close range with six minutes on the clock.
The Stags now sit on 13 points with three other teams, and return to the Elmbridge Sports Hub when hosting East Grinstead Town on Tuesday.
Walton Casuals: Denzel Gerrar, Samuel Labinjo, Harry Mills, Alex Kelly, Max Hustwick, Joe Hicks, Jack Battie, Lartey Sarpong, Josh Kelly (Michael Phillip-Ogbuogu 90), Luke Holness, Sean McCormack.
Subs Not Used: Max Fitzgerald, Alfie Taylor, Stuart Baldwin, Evander Lopes
Goals: Lartey Sarpong (15)
Horsham: Josh James, Adam Hunt (Jack Hartley 7), Steve Metcalf, Darren Budd, Charlie Farmer, Lewis Hyde, Scott Kirkwood, Michael Waller, Rob O’Toole, Toby House, Darren Boswell (Tom Lawley 85)
Subs Not Used: Charlie Oatway, James Thurgar, Christopher Breach
Goals: Rob O’Toole (84)