Burgess Hill Town made the trip to Cray Valley Paper Mills looking to do the league double over the Millers, something which they accomplished last week against Sittingbourne. Since the turn of the year, something had clicked for Jay Lovett’s boys and like every good team, it all starts at the back as Will Huffer and his defence notch up yet another Isthmian League clean sheet. Cleaner sheets than Benson For Beds.
It was a frighteningly warm day for England (20C is now classed as frightening, go with it people) so perhaps the weather played a factor early on as chances were at a premium for both sides in the early stages. The first opening didn’t occur until the 17th minute but it did come down the Hillians end. Dan Cadman did really well down the left hand side and his low cross was unusually missed by Lewis Finney in the box before it bounced just to high for Max Miller to make any meaningful contact. 5 minutes later and the Hill got an ever better chance. Once again it came down the left hand side but this time Max Miller made a good run and kept himself onside, he was far too rapido for the Valley defence and he picked the right pass too finding the onrushing Lewis Finney but he blasted his effort straight at Liam Northwood in the Paper Mills goal and the hosts scrambled the rebound clear. A very hot, scrappy and relatively chanceless first 45 looked like it was coming to a close when on the stroke of HT, those pesky Hillians nabbed the lead. Substitute JJ Minty surprised the 155 in attendance by absolutely torpedoing a Rory Delap esque long throw into the penalty area and this caused complete anarchy in the Cray back line. Big defender Nathaniel Blanks got in a right old mix up with Liam Northwood and Blanks, while back pedalling towards his own goal could only flick a header backwards and into the near post, past a helpless Northwood to gift the Hill the lead.
Burgess Hill did deserve to be infront albeit not in the way they would of expected it to happen. They made a quick, front foot start to the second half, Lewis Finney retrieving a corner and cutting inside before testing out young Northwood in the net with a fierce shot which he was equal to. Will Huffer hadn’t really been tested in the game so far but my word that was about to change. A prolonged spell of Paper Mills pressure culminated in a golden chance for the hosts as a cross was begging to be tapped in which they duly obliged until Will Huffer decided to turn into some kind of goalkeeping god and flew to his right hand save and kept the ball out, a sheer match winning save by our shotstopping supremo. You felt after that big save Burgess Hill probably needed a second goal to kill this game off. JJ Minty and Lewis Finney both had wild shots which were more danger to the local bird life than the net in the goal but it was signs that the Hill were keen to get the job done with a second. With 20 minutes to go, a golden chance came and went to put this game to bed. Another substitute, Charlie Kelly was looking to make an impact off the bench and he certainly did that by breaking away down the left hand side, he had Tom Chalaye for company in the middle if CK found him which he did with a perfect pass, but with the goal at his mercy Chalaye lacked conviction with his attempt and it was rather scuffed and it ended up trickling wide of the upright instead of nestling inside of it. Quite surprisingly all the chances kept coming at the Hillians end of the field. Once again Charlie Kelly did his best to deliver a second, he sent a sumptuous cross into the box where the fox, Pat Harding was lurking, he got up well but could only glance his header wide of the goal. Would we rue these missed opportunities? Into the last 10 minutes and it suddenly dawned on the hosts that they needed a goal. A lung busting run from right to left for the hosts ended with a clear sight of Will Huffers goal but just as the Miller man was about to pull the trigger, Dan Cadman came flying in with a Herculean block to keep these sheets nice and clean. You always get one final chance, and CVPM did. Raheem Sterling-Parker, the Ex Haywards Heath man was slipped in on goal, he beat Huffer but his effort rolled across the face of goal and fortunately for the Hillians, it just kept rolling past the post as well much to the relief of the Burgess contingent. They say you make your own luck and I think the Hillians were owed some after their outstanding defensive performance.
A fortunate Own Goal sealed the win but make no mistake, there was nothing fortunate about the end result. A deserved double is done over play off chasing Cray Valley Paper Mills and April is proving to be a Green and Black type of month!
Next up, it’s literally tomorrow! We welcome the ‘Citeh! Chichester City are the final visitors to paradise as we cap off our home games at the More Than Tyres Stadium for the 21/22 season. Just as Smith&Western say, we’ll see you thereeeee!