As starts to a football match go, having your goalkeeper sent off after 10 minutes isn’t exactly what we had in mind. Unfortunately for the Hill and Taylor Seymour, this is what happened, as he lost his bearings while trying to gather a long ball and handled outside his area leaving the referee with no option but to dismiss the stopper. The unfortunate man to make way was Pat Harding and thankfully for Jay Lovett we had a recognised GK on the bench in the form of 17-year-old, Tarek El-Hadaoui. His first bit of action was to watch the resulting free kick fly high and wide over his goal. The pressure on the young GK wasn’t as heavy as you might expect as the Hillians were defending well and Lancing struggled to create much to write home about. A back post header from a cross drifted harmlessly wide before down the other end, Connor Tighe did well to create some space but leant back and saw his effort drift high over the bar. Michael Campbell, on his full debut, had a similar attempt fly over the bar as the Hill continued to make a game of it even with a man less. Michael Uwezu looked to catch Lancers keeper Alieu Secka off guard with an audacious chip before finally El-Hadaoui was forced into a save, getting down quickly to his right to palm a Mark Goldson effort past the post. From the resulting corner, an even better save was needed as Brad Campbell-Francis fired a long range effort on goal which took a late deflection but Tarik got something on it to turn it away. Lancing thought they had opened the scoring as a long throw was flicked on by Liam Hendy, El-Hadaoui couldn’t hold it and Will Berry tapped it home but he was adjudged to be offside. Another back post header from a corner came and went for Lancing before a golden chance presented itself. Young debutant Nic D’Arienzo missed his clearance and that allowed Campbell-Francis to streak clear but as he beared down on goal he lost all composure and sent a shot towards Wivelsfield station. As halftime approached, a rare Hill foray forward almost led to the opener. Max Miller burst clear down the left, he crossed looking for Connor Tighe, it was cleared only as far as Lewis Finney who’s shot was blocked but it fell to Michael Uwezu who’s effort from 12 yards was straight at Alieu Secka. As if the first half couldn’t get any more action packed, Burgess Hill were awarded a penalty! Reggie Ward played a ball down the line for Miller, he cut inside and squared it for Michael Campbell who was fouled in the box for a penalty. After a lengthy delay, Max Miller stepped up but couldn’t beat Alieu Secka, who saved low down to his right.
Lancing knew they didn’t test our young debutant GK enough in the first half, so immediately after the restart, Campbell-Francis fired in a low shot which Tarek saved well. Mark Goldson was next to take aim as he cut inside on his left foot, his effort was blocked by Dan Cadman but it almost fell kindly for Will Berry but El-Hadaoui was alert to smother the loose ball. Lancing’s best chance of the second half fell to Goldson, he chipped Tarek and thought he had scored but captain Josh Spinks got back and acrobatically volleyed it off the line. The Hillians were still trying to get forward when they could and Max Miller fired wide from a good position as the game remained goalless. With 18 minutes remaining, Jay Lovett’s men incredibly took the lead. Substitute Trey Masikini played a lovely ball in behind to the ever willing runner Campbell, he drove into the box and squared it for Michael Uwezu who tucked it past Secka to send the 328 bananas. Our lead was very short lived as Lancing substitute Gabe Robinson crossed for Will Berry to head back across goal and Matt Daniel couldn’t miss from a matter of yards. We had defended so well for most of the match but again we failed to switch on after a goal and Lancing quickly got a second. A wicked Darius Goldsmith free kick fell beautifully for substitute Ismalia Diallo to slam into the top bins and cue wild, cup final-esque celebrations from the visitors. However, you just felt that the action wasn’t over, a Hill corner caused mayhem before a Uwezu header was scrambled away by Lancing. Sub Charlie Kelly looked to play a delightful ball into Uwezu but a combination of very good defending and goalkeeping closed the door on that avenue of opportunity. As the clock ticked over to 90, the Hill won a free kick about 25 yards out and former Lancer Lewis Finney stepped up and curled a stunner past Secka to break his former teams hearts.
After playing 80 minutes with 10 men and 4 of our defensive unit being teenagers, Jay Lovett will certainly feel it’s a point gained.
Yesterday’s match sponsors, in memory of Derek Kenward, awarded Man of the Match to Hillians teenager Reggie Ward.
Next up, we welcome Faversham Town to the More Than Tyres Stadium on Tuesday evening – 7:30pm kick off under the lights!