The Hillians made it three wins from three with a fantastic display away at the Dripping Pan.
Simon Wormull made just the one change from the side who beat Worthing on Boxing Day, with Ben Pope returning to the staring XI, seeing Tolulope Jonah drop to the bench.
In front of a packed out Dripping Pan, the Hillians started brightly and could have had a penalty in the 4th minute, as Smith-Joseph jinked his way past Day before being brought down – only for the referee to award a free-kick just outside of the box. The hosts began to find their feet, and in the 14th minute should have taken the lead when an unmarked Chappell headed wide from a corner. Both sides were enjoying spells of possession without creating many clear cut chances. The main talking point of the first half came in the 36th minute, as McCollin appeared to be pulled to the ground as he beared down on Carey’s goal, with shouts of a free-kick and sending off from the Hillians faithful behind the goal, the referee pulled out a card (albiet a yellow one), showing it to McCollin – as the forward was booked for simulation. Josh James was first called into action five minutes later, as he smartly parried Golding’s low effort away from danger. James’ save was the last action of a fairly cagey opening exchange.
Wormull made two changes at the break, introducing Choules and Correia for the injured Kipeya-Bonno and McCollin. The Hillians came out pumping, and with a silenced Dripping Pan crowd (excluding the Hillians behind the oppostion goal) sensed the opportunity for something special. In the 51st minute, the deadlock was broken. Pope’s long throw caused confusion in the Rooks box and following a slight touch by Elphick, the ball ricochet off Oluwatimilehin and into the back of the net. From this moment onwards, the Hillians dominated, with wave after wave of attack. Wilson was next to test Carey, but the ‘keeper held his low driven effort. In the 59th minute, the Hillians’ lead was doubled, as Wilson fed Pope who shifted the ball onto his left before firing low past the outstreched Carey. The Hillians faithful were in dreamland, with the performance they were seeing certainly giving them something to sing about. Farrell Ryder was introduced for his league debut and alongside Correia gave the Hillians an abundenous of attacking impetus. Wormull’s men had the ball in the back of the net once more in the 65th minute, but the referee blew for a foul in the build up to the goal. The 100-odd Hillians packed into the Pan were sent into absolute delerium in the 72nd minute, as Pat Harding scored what only can be described as ‘Goal of the Season’, as his 25 yard half volley flew past Carey and into the top corner. With the three points all but confimed, the next task for the Hillians was to keep that clean sheet in-tact. Richmond, who was having arguably his best game in a Hillians shirt, Elphick and Wilson all took blows to the body as they threw themselves in front of Rooks strikes. The Hillians saw out the game in professional fashion to leave the Pan with all three points.
An unbelievable performance from the Hillians, which sees us make it three wins from our last three Bostik Premier League outings.
The Hillians MOTM was awarded to James Richmond, who alongside Gary Elphick, seemlessly kept one the league’s most dangerous forward lines at bay all afternoon. But, quite frankly, every man in white deserved the plaudits.
The final words have to be on the 100-plus Hillians fans who made the trip to support the club. It may sound repetitive, but you really are a special breed!
Next up, it’s a return to the GES as we host the Invicta.