In a fixture that is always eagerly anticipated at the start of the season, we did not have to wait long for an early season grudge match on Bank Holiday Monday. It was Jay Lovett’s men who made the faster start, after just 4 minutes Lewis Taylor picked the ball up in midfield and unleashed a fierce drive which had ex-Hillian Billy Collings beaten but fortunately for him it cannoned off the post and to safety. In the 9th minute, Heath thought they had opened the scoring. A neat short corner routine led to Tom Gilbert firing goalwards, and had it not been for a touch from Davigildo Cravid who was virtually on the goal line, the goal would have stood. Both teams were having chances in the early knockings of the match, Pat Harding fired an ambitious effort over the bar after some nice build up play. Down the other end, Taylor Seymour had to be on his toes to push away a dangerous Heath free kick. From the resulting corner, another ex-Hillian Nathan Cooper somehow managed to find himself free at the back post but his header cracked the bar and went over. That proved to be a costly miss as just 4 minutes later, the Hillians had the lead. Josh Spinks played long ball forward and the pace of Trey Masikini made him first to it, he cut inside Cooper before putting it through the legs of Collings to spark wild celebrations behind the goal. Just 5 minutes later, the lively Masikini could of doubled our lead. A beautiful cross from Martyn Box landed right at the feet of the striker but a loose touch took him towards the defender and it allowed Tom Gilbert the opportunity to recover with a brilliant goal saving challenge. Corners were proving hard to deal with for the Yellows and Heath almost got an equaliser from one, as Seymour had to be quick off his line to smother a Jerson Dos Santos effort. Just before the stroke of half time, Pat Harding had a golden chance to assert our lead. Reggie Ward pinged a ball forward, Tom Gilbert got his defensive header all wrong and that left Pat Harding one on one but he couldn’t lift the ball over Collings.
After an impressive first half showing the Hillians would of been craving a second goal early in the second half to take command of the game. Martyn Box was inches away from providing this as his wicked ball in was almost perfect for Masikini but it flew just over his head. Billy Collings goal was under siege at the start of the second 45 and he had the crossbar to thank after Reggie Ward got a cross all wrong but it ended up looping off the top of the bar and luckily for Collings, away to safety. 9 minutes into the second half, the home side were level. Kieron Rowe rolled a free kick for Jordan Clark to shoot and shoot he did as his effort went through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner. The Heath had their tails up and Burgess Hill were rocked. Lewis Taylor had his pocket picked in midfield by Rowe and he attempted to lob Seymour from the halfway line but his effort was just palmed to safety by Seymour. With just over an hour gone, Haywards Heath had turned the game around. Cravid charged down a Spinks clearance and the ball fell nicely into the path of Dos Santos. He drove at the back line before smashing an effort into the bottom corner leaving Seymour with no chance. The hosts almost put the game to bed when a long ball wasn’t dealt with by Spinks but Cravid poked his effort over the bar from inside the area. The gaps were starting to appear at the back as the Hill chased an equaliser, once again Cravid got in behind but this time his weak left footed effort was no bother for Seymour. The chances kept coming for the hosts to put the game to bed, Rowe whipped a tasty ball in and Cravid’s stabbed effort was well saved by Seymour once again as he kept us in it.
The Hillians perhaps deserved more out of the game but fall to a third successive defeat in the league.
Next up, we turn our attentions away from league action as we welcome Bracknell Town in the Emirates FA Cup.