Hillians Suffer Defeat to Angels
By Mark Dunford
A goal with the last kick of the game by Lee Harding was not enough as Burgess Hill Town lost their first league home game of the season to Tonbridge Angels.
Manager Ian Chapman made one change from the starting line-up who drew 1-1 with Needham Market on Saturday with Curtis Gayler replacing Scott Kirkwood.
Saturday’s scorer Tyrell Richardson-Brown remained on the bench.
It was a backs-to-the-wall start for Burgess Hill when Joey Taylor gave away a needless free-kick in a dangerous position just three minutes in.
Nick Wheeler’s free kick was met at the far post by Angels skipper Tom Parkinson. He headed downwards but the ball bounced up onto the crossbar and away. But Wheeler crossed the ball in again and this time it was met firmly by Nathan Elder but Josh James pulled off a tremendous save to keep it goalless.
It was a slow start from Burgess Hill but they could have gone one up on when Pat Harding found space on the right and his cross found Dan Thompson. But the big striker did not make a great connection with his header and it was an easy save for Tonbridge keeper Anthony Di Bernado.
The Hillians grew into the game and Lee Harding had a golden chance to give the home side the lead. Thompson linked up well with Pat Harding down the right and he sent in a great cross which was met by namesake Lee.But he couldn’t direct his first time shot into the corner and the ball trickled wide.
But he couldn’t direct his first time shot into the corner and the ball trickled wide.
And it was the younger Harding who was causing the Tonbridge defence some issues and on 21 minutes he broke into the box but his shot was too weak to trouble Di Bernado.
But it was the visitors who drew first blood against the run of play on 24 minutes. Will Miles failed to clear Ugo Udogi’s long ball into the box and it fell to Nicky Wheeler who composed himself, cut back on his right foot and fired into the back of the net.
Both sides struggled to create chances after that with the midfield battling it out and it remained 1-0 to the visitors at the break.
The second half started brightly and after James saved from Wheeler, Burgess Hill carved open their best chance on 52 minutes. Curtis Gayler’s pinpoint pass found Lee Harding and after his first cross was blocked, the ball fell nicely to him but Di Bernado saved his low shot.
But Angels always looked dangerous on the attack and Wheeler, Jack Parter and Elder all had chances but never really tested James.
The game evened out again but you sensed Burgess Hill were growing in confidence and the introduction of Richardson-Brown on 62 minutes, replacing Gayler, injected some pace and he did well straight away after breaking into the box and he found Pat Harding, but his cross was blocked.
Both sets of players managed to get a rest on 73 minutes when Udo Udogi went down with a serious looking injury. The stoppage lasted more than five minutes before he was eventually stretchered off.
This spurred Angels on and with three minutes left they got their second when the dangerous Wheeler’s cross evaded Elder but found sub Bradley Fortum-Tomlinson who smashed the ball home.
There was no way back for the Hillians now, even with six minutes injury time. And you could tell by the muted celebrations for Harding’s goal it was too little too late for Burgess Hill.
After the game, manager Ian Chapman was disappointed with the result, but encouraged by some aspects of the performance. His reaction to follow.
Burgess Hill face Enfield Town at home on Saturday.