The first chance of the game fell to the Hill as Martyn Box’s free kick was headed narrowly by Scott Kirkwood. Crawley’s first chance of the game came just a couple of minutes later in a fast paced opening 10 minutes. Sam Matthews combined with Ashley Nadesan who fired wide on the volley. The Hill weren’t being outclassed early on and should of taken the lead when a wicked Joshua Luther cross was headed over by Andrew Herring – 10 yards out. It was end-to-end football with the returning Hillians crowd being throughly entertained to a proper game of football, Sam Matthews had the Red Devil’s next chance but his shot was tame and straight at the Hill keeper. Crawley were starting to assert some dominance midway through the first half with chances coming frequently for them. Rafiq Khaleel pulling the latest one just wide. In the 23rd minute, our trialist goalkeeper made a very impressive double save from the lively Matthews to keep the scores level. Town probably should of taken the lead when a Trialist headed over after good work from Tyler Frost but they weren’t to be denied much longer. Jake Hessenthaler capitalised on a loose pass and raced through on goal before rounding our keeper and slotting in calmly to give the visitors the lead. Crawley weren’t having it all there own way in the first half, as Andrew Herring almost equalised past former Hillians loanee Alfie Jones – but his shot from a tight angle was well saved. Jones was beaten on the stroke of half-time, however, as Trialist got to a loose ball before him but a Town defender was in the right place to clear off the line. Lewis Taylor almost ended the half in style as he struck a ferocious volley that flew inches wide of the top corner.
Crawley made 11 changes at half-time and arguably fielded an even stronger, more experienced 11 for the second 45 and they almost doubled the lead when good work down the left from Owen Gallacher set up Zaid Al-Hussaini but he blazed well over the bar. The very experienced Tom Nichols was one of a number of familiar names on show and he almost created the second Crawley goal, but once again Al-Hussaini couldn’t hit the target. Burgess Hill were really battling hard to restrict Crawley to half chances, with a Town trialist heading over from a corner the best they could muster. Whilst being defensively solid, we were still looking for an equaliser and it almost arrived with 13 minutes to go as Jordi Ndozid drove forward from midfield and his goalbound shot was deflected just wide. With just 5 minutes to go, the Hillians were rewarded for there efforts as they grabbed a deserved equaliser. Glenn Morris failed to deal with a high ball into the box and the ever reliable Pat Harding was on hand to half volley the ball in from 12 yards to send the More Than Tyres potty! Time was ticking away but Crawley, who perhaps had been guilty of coasting a touch, were now pressing hard for a winner – as Tom Nicholls teed up James Tilley but another smart stop from our trialist keeper denied him. Crawley thought they had snatched a winner in the 90th minute when George Francomb side footed towards goal but once again, our impressive trialist goalkeeper was equal to it, tipping it around the post and making sure we weren’t to be beaten.
A deserved draw against professional opposition as we maintain our unbeaten pre-season record!
Next up, we travel to fellow Isthmian League side Barking for our 4th venture of pre-season.