Two former Hillians condemned the Green and Blacks to defeat on a sunny but bleak afternoon for Jay Lovett’s men.
East Grinstead came into this fixture bottom of the form guide. What do all teams out of form desperately crave? A fast start. The opener came after just 6 minutes. A long throw by ex Hillian Fintan Walsh was flicked on by Grin skipper Glenn Wilson and another former Burgess boy Daniel Uchechi got free in the box to tap home from 4 yards out. Not the start Jay Lovett had strived for, I’m sure. It took until the 20th minute for the Hillians to show any attacking impetus. A long throw of our own from Nic D’Arienzo was flicked goalwards by Tom Chalaye but his header rippled the side netting. Earlier in the week it had been announced that Burgess Hill shot stopper, Will Huffer, had signed a contract with the club which will see him occupy the No1 spot in RH15 until at least the end of next season. He demonstrated why this was such a shrewd move when he made a fabulous fingertip stop to thwart Sam Remfry after he fired a shot from 20 yards which came through a crowd of players. The first half was lacklustre from the men in blue, in truth, the game wasn’t exactly as hot as the sun overhead. A bit scrappy and a lot of throw ins. Tough to build any momentum for an equaliser. Right on the stroke of HT, Connor Tighe, who was making consecutive starts picked up the ball 25 yards out and smacked a brilliant effort which curled and dipped and beat the keeper all ends up but as is the luck of Connor this season, his effort cannoned off the crossbar.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were similar to the first. Tight, scrappy, not the free flowing football that the Hill like to play, however they were much more on the front foot and in control of more possession than what we had seen in the first 45. This all led to the equaliser in the 63rd minute. No real surprise it came from a set piece, Harry Pollard nodded a corner back across goal and Jonny on the spot was captain Lewis Taylor to slot home his 10th goal of the campaign and even up the contest. The Hillians for the first time in this contest finally had some momentum as they went hunting a second. Another long throw proved dangerous as the ball fell to Harry Pollard who swung a left peg at the bouncing ball but his effort flew just over. The Hillians were on top, huffing and puffing, so what happens next? East Grinstead score again. Football is a cruel mistress. He had been quiet for large portions of the game, however Burgess Hill know only too well how good Andrew Briggs is. This goal was more on the fortuitous side. His shot from 25 yards took a wicked deflection off Dan Cadman and completely wrong footed Will Huffer as everyone was helpless to the ball spinning into the bottom corner. How do these young Hillians respond? By dusting themselves down and getting a second equaliser, of course. Lewis Finney whipped a dangerous cross which the home goalie could only palm out to the on rushing Dan Cadman who fired his effort through GK Smith and past Tariq Straker on the line. A wonderful moment for the 18 year old Hillians youth product as he notched his first ever goal in senior football, right in front of the adoring Hill faithful going barmy behind the goal. As the time ticked on it was the Hillians who were pressing for a winner but perhaps in hindsight they should’ve made sure they weren’t so open at the back first. East Grinsteads Tariq Straker picked up a loose ball and thundered down the left hand side, brushing off attention from Max Miller and hurdling a last ditch lunge from Leon Moore. His cross into the box was only headed away by Lewis Taylor into the path of Andrew Briggs, centre of goal, 25 yards out. You just knew, didn’t you? If his first goal was slightly fortunate, this was absolutely unsaveable. Will Huffer flew to his right but the ball just whizzed past his ear, into the very upper echelons of the net and spelled heartache for Hill.
A vastly improved second half from the Hill in which they fought back valiantly twice and didn’t deserve to lose but conceding 3 goals in a match is always going to spell trouble.
Next up, it’s a first ever trip to Gay Dawn Farm as the Hill head to the Hoops!