The Stags endured a ‘Fright Night’ of their own in a Halloween cup exit to Horsham, despite Josh Kelly’s second-half opener.
Anthony Gale put trust in his side after their 3-0 defeat at Maldon & Tiptree just three days earlier, with Jack Battie coming in for the cup-tied Youssef Bamba in the only change to the starting XI.
However, a calamitous second-half display meant the poor form continued with just two wins and three cup exits from the past 10 games.
Walton made a confident start with Alex Kelly almost beating Michael Hunter inside five minutes, and two impressive saves from Denzel Gerrar kept the scoresheet blank.
The game carried a fast pace throughout the first half, with end-to-end football allowing both sides an opportunity to take the lead.
And Battie may have felt they did, after his low-driven cross was rebounded to the feet of Luke Holness in the six-yard box. Expecting a simple tap-in, his strike was heroically blocked by Alex Duncan, who slid across the line to make a clearance.
Horsham may have been fortunate to avoid a caution after an accidental slap on Luke Holness in a challenge, but they withheld pressure late in the first-half. Alex Kelly fired over the bar, before Sean McCormack’s strike was parried out of danger.
The second half proved a different story though, and the opener came just six minutes after the break. After Horsham’s Joe Shelley was caught out at the back, the visitors were dispossessed and Josh Kelly provided a clinical strike from the edge of the box.
The Hornets almost issued an immediate response with George Landais’ looping header almost defying the laws of physics when scraping past the far post.
However, the visitors stepped up their performance and dominated the Stags for the remaining 30 minutes. After a short halt in play, allowing Alex Kelly to recover from taking a powerful strike to the groin, Horsham looked to captivate on the hosts being a man down temporarily.
Landais, who had proven to be the Hornets’ only real threat in the first half, gave the hosts a scare with a well-placed header in the bottom corner – only to see his goal ruled out for offside.
With momentum behind Horsham, they finally grabbed their equaliser through Toby House. A low cross into the box allowed the Lewes loanee to tap home a decisive goal in the 65th minute.
Not adamant with the draw and the prospect of penalties, Horsham continued to surge and added a second through substitute Dean Bown. After just 15 minutes on the pitch, he hit a powerful strike from outside the box leaving Gerrar with little help.
The goal deflated the Casuals, and they struggled to launch an attack against their Bostik South rivals in the closing stages. Experienced defender Steve Metcalf then rounded off the game with his goal eight minutes from time to send Walton out of the Velocity Trophy.
Walton Casuals: Denzel Gerrar, Harry Mills (Stuart Baldwin 89), Dominic Ogun, Alex Kelly, Max Hustwick, Joe Hicks, Jack Battie, Daryl Coleman, Josh Kelly, Luke Holness (Mohamed Abukar 67), Sean McCormack (Michael Phillip-Ogbuogu 89).
Subs Not Used: Alfie Taylor, Fraser Trigwell.
Horsham: Michael Hunter, Alex Duncan, Lewis Hyde, Steve Metcalf, Jack Hartley, Joe Shelley, George Landais, Scott Kirkwood, Toby House (Dan Mobsby 87), Scott Harris, James Thurgar (Dean Bown 63).
Subs Not Used: Liam MacDevitt, Andrew McCarthy.