Simon Wormull made four changes to the side who lost at Whitehawk in midweek, handing a debut to Declan Appau and a second debut to Cheick Toure, as well as returns to the starting XI for Tom Cadman and Jared Rance.
The strong contigent of Hillians behind the goal set the standards for the afternoon as they broke out into song as the game kicked off. The first real opportunity fell to the hosts, as in the 9th minute, Josh Hutchinson’s speculative overhead kick cannoned back off the crossbar. That man, Hutchinson had another opportunity to open the scoring just moments later, but his dinked effort evaded both James and the goal. In the 22nd minute, Josh James pulled off a superb save to deny Sach at the back post, only to completely out-do himself just seconds later, as he produced an even better save to thwart Budden from the resulting corner. Clear-cut opportunities were proving difficult to come by for both sides. In the 33rd minute, Jared Rance’s drilled free-kick headed for the bottom corner, but Tzanev had other ideas as he got down to save well. Two minutes later, Smith-Joseph turned on the after-burners as he breezed past Lomas and Grace before being clipped on the edge of the area – well, the referee didn’t seem to agree and play continued. The half ended with a good opportunity for the hosts, as Budden’s header rolled across the face of the goal begging for a touch, but luckily for the Hillians it trickled out for a goal-kick.
The half started with a fantastic piece of defending from Cheick Toure, as the centre half somehow manged to block Hutchinson’s effort as the striker looked destined to score. Aiden Enver was introduced for Declan Appau, in the 52nd minute, in search for some renewed creativity. As the game progressed, it was beginning to look like just one goal would win it. In the 64th minute, a rare chance presented itself, but Rance couldn’t quite divert his header past the ‘keeper – following some confusion at the back. Following a nasty clash of heads, James Richmond was replaced by Tolulope Jonah at the heart of the defence. Moments after the substitution, Josh James produced another wonderful save to deny Grace. With 10 minutes remaining, Charlie Bennett was introduced to inject some energy into the middle of the park. In the dying embers, a couple of Jonah missile’s (throw-ins) entered the hosts’ box, but were dealt with well by the Potters.
A welcome point on the road for the Hillians – which ends the rot of four straight defeats.
The Hillians MOTM was awarded to Josh James, who kept the Hillians in the game, especially in the first half, with a series of stunning saves.
Thank you to every single one of you Hillians who made the long trip to support the club – absolutely fantastic from you all!
Next up, Sussex HQ…