What a treat we all endured. Hot weather. Rain downpour. Cracking football. Super Pat Harding. The works. Just another fantastic instalment of the Ann John Memorial Trophy.
On the hottest day ever recorded in the UK, it was only right the Hill made a hot start. Charlie Kelly got the chance creating underway, dancing his way into the box on the right hand side before squaring the ball for his oncoming teammates. Lewis Finney did an air kick but it turned into a cracking dummy for Martyn Box who’s fierce effort was very well cleared off the line by a Robin. Hassocks first opportunity of the evening came via the way of a Hill mistake. Harry Pollard didn’t deal with a ball down the channel and the hosts got in behind. Like all good friends should, luckily for Polly, Josh Spinks cut out the teasing ball into the middle and the danger was cleared. Absolutely everything offensively for Jay Lovett’s boys was coming through the magic feet of Charlie Kelly. He was only a lick of paint away from opening the scoring. A cracking ball in from Martyn Box saw elite movement from CK to get infront of his man, flick the ball on towards the far post and it looked in all the way right up until the point where it smacked the post and span away from goal. So unlucky. It was a very entertaining first 45 with action and chances at both ends of the field. Pat Harding got on the end of a long ball for the Robins but to the surprise of everyone, his first touch let him down and the chance was spurned. Very unlike Patrick. Burgess Hill suffered a couple of injury scares as Charlie Kelly (Concussion) and Josh Spinks (Knee) both had to be withdrawn in the first 45 minutes. That gloom was somewhat lifted in the 42nd minute however, as the Hill broke the deadlock. It was as route one as you like, the assist came for the returning Will Huffer in goal, he played a beauty of a pass over the top for one our Trialists to round the keeper and slot home very confidently indeed.
The rest of the Hillians substitutes who hadn’t appeared in the first 45, started the second 45 and one of them looked to make an instant impact. Hayden Skerry, like he so often does, cut inside his man beautifully before drilling a shot low and hard which the Robins GK had to be very alert to. Hassocks we’re given a route back into the contest in the 54th minute when a Hillian fouled a home fellow inside the box and the referee had absolutely no hesitation in pointing to the spot where you take penalties from. Everyone expected Pat Harding to step up against his old club but Jack Troak had other ideas, clearly. Up he stepped instead and although Huffer went the right way, to Troaks credit, he buried it. Hillians were clearly unhappy at the lead being wiped out and instantly looked to rectify this. The Hill went straight up the other end and forced the host keeper into a brilliant save with his feet to keep the scores level. This save was almost even more precious when the Robins almost took the lead. It was Pat Harding with the chance, who else, he got into a great position on the left and only he knows if it was a cross or a shot. If it was a shot, it whistled millimetres wide of the post and if it was a cross, it was a fraction ahead of the sliding Robin at the back post. A bit of a let off for Hill. With 15 minutes to go, the referee levelled up the penalty count and awarded the Hill a golden chance to retake the lead. In the blink of an eye, a Hassocks attack was sniffed out and Hayden Skerry was sent clear over the top, he was too quick for anyone until he was dragged robustly to the ground. That left Lewis Finney to step up and place the ball calmly into the bottom corner to restore the Green and Black advantage. Some late huffing and puffing turned out to be in vain for Hassocks as they couldn’t manage to grab a second equaliser and Burgess Hill claimed success in the Ann John Memorial Trophy once again.
A very close fought battle between Mid Sussex’s stellar clubs, with vital money being raised for St Peter & St James’ Hospice. A blooming good evening all round I say.
Those Hillians are back in action on Saturday when we travel to the steady chips of Chipstead.