Hill started off on the front foot, with Jordi Ndozid forcing a fingertip save from the Cray Valley keeper with just seven minutes gone. The early encounters had a proper cup tie feel to it, with both teams wanting to attack at every opportunity. It was, unfortunately, the hosts who took the lead. As a free-kick from the right fell to an unmarked Connor Dymond – who’s half volley nestled into the bottom corner. The hosts extended their lead in the 39th minute, as Ade Yusuff slotted Francis Babalola through one-on-one – who tucked his effort neatly past a helpless Josh James. The Hillians thought they’d clawed one back just before the half-time whistle, as Nathan Cooper’s header struck the inside of the post and looked destined to go in, but lady luck was with the Millers, as the ball instead fell into the grateful arms of Andrew Walker. The hosts then struck a sucker blow, extending their lead to three just seconds before the break, as Denzel Gayle capitalised on some lax defending.
The second half started with a flurry of chances. Yusuff should of added a fourth but hit it high and wide with the goal at his mercy. Down the other end, Aaron Smith-Joseph turned his man inside out but fired his shot straight at Walker. It looked like it was going to be one of those nights for Jay Lovett’s men, but they were thrown a lifeline, as the referee awarded a penalty for handball inside the hosts area. Alex Laing stepped up and cooly slotted the penalty away to make it a very interesting last twenty-five minutes. Laing then came within inches of grabbing another back, as his stabbed effort was cleared off the line, before his goal-bound free-kick fell just wide of the right-hand post. The Hillians continued to push but just left themselves too much to do, as the hosts saw out the victory.
A poor opening forty-five cost the Hillians, but there were plenty of positives to be taken – certainly from the second half display.
Next up, it’s the Mid Sussex derby!
Report by Jack Naldrett.