Hillians Dominate Police but Come Home with Nothing
By Charlie Kelly
Ian Chapman’s team travelled to play Met Police without captain Dan Pearse (suspended), Joey Taylor (ankle injury), Jonah Ayunga (hip injury) and withDean Cox & Sam Fisk unavailable. Jack Brivio and Dan Thompson returned to the starting line-up after suspension and illness.
The Hillians started well, with Lee Harding having a lot of early possession but his final delivery was disappointing. The young Met Police goalkeeper, Nathan Baxter on loan from Chelsea FC, had a nervous start when he fumbled a low cross from Redwood but Chris Smith couldn’t convert the mistake. The Hillians had four corners in the opening 10 minutes but the home team defended well and the young keeper was gaining confidence with some good catches to calm the home bench nerves. In the 14th minute, a Met Police free kick from just inside the opposition half seemed to attract three Burgess Hill defenders to the ball, but none of them won the header and it was knocked down to be volleyed home by Jake Reid. It took the Hillians some 20 minutes to regain any composure and the home side nearly scored a second when another free-kick wasn’t dealt with and the oncoming striker beat the advancing James to the ball to see his effort just go wide of the goal. Another barrage of corners came to nothing but a Pat Harding cross did find Dan Thompson who should have scored from six yards but Baxter did well to save. Another chance fell to Thompson from a Will Miles cross but his header was directed straight into the arms of Baxter.
The worst possible start saw Hillians concede a second goal from a set piece in the 46th minute. A long throw eluded the Hillians defence again and found the unmarked Ola Sogbanmu to volley past the ‘hapless’ James. It could have been worse when James made a smart one-handed save at the back post from another free header. The Hillians won corner after corner but it wasn’t until Tyrell Richardson Brown was introduced for Thompson that the home defence was stretched. Guy Bolton was also introduced for Redwood and the Hillians pressure was rewarded when a Cheick Toure cross was met by Richardson Brown to head in at the far post. 16-year-old Curtis Griffin was given his RPL debut with five minutes to go but it was a losing one with the home side hanging on for a much-needed win.
It was a frustrating afternoon for the Hillians who had enough possession to win the game easily but need to be more clinical in front of goal.