It’s becoming like clockwork, this?! Pre-season. Mid July. Away at Chipstead. A 1-2 win. This all sounds rather familiar? That’s because, it is!
For the 3rd pre-season in succession the Hillians made the trip up the High Road to leafy Surrey to battle the Chips of Chipstead. It was a slow start from both sides to this encounter, with the first chance falling for the big home team No9. The ball came to him on the edge of the area and he fired an effort low towards Will Huffer, luckily it was straight at the Hill GK. The first opportunity for those Hillians came shortly after. It was a terrific passing team move from left to right as we progressed the soccer ball up the pitch, the ball eventually finding its way to Mr Trialist on the right of the area. He fired an attempt low and hard which forced the home GK into a good low save. Suddenly, the chances were flowing! Chipstead won a free kick 25 yards out to the left of goal and a fierce dipping effort almost nestled into Huffers top corner. A customary drinks break was taken midway through the first 45 and the Hill came out from that re energised! A lovely turn from Jeff Duah-Kessie saw him slip past his man, he beared down and goal and looked to curl one into the far top corner and produced a very good save from the hosts keeper. The first half seemed to be strolling to a stalemate conclusion. That was, until the hosts broke the deadlock. A silly free kick was given away by the Hillians on the right hand side, it was whipped into the middle and that left a Chipstead CB free somehow to bullet an effort past a completely helpless Will Huffer.
The Hillians started the second half much more on the front foot, clearly annoyed by the goal before the break. A trialing Trialist who has been with us all pre-season, almost provided the moment of magic to get us level. He danced his way beautifully past 3 defenders and had the goal at his mercy but a cracking save with his legs by the GK denied him a sure goal. We weren’t to be denied an equaliser for long, though… In fact, it was less than 60 seconds later! A different Trialist broke away down the right and pulled the ball back perfectly for Connor Tighe who came onto it and stroked it in the bottom bins to get us level. Clearly buyoued by his goal, Connor’s confidence was flowing. He played the most delightful curving through ball to a Trialist who’s subsequent shot smashed into the side netting. The Trialists were clearly trying to impress Mr Lovett, a different one to any previously mentioned found himself through on the left hand side, he beat the keeper but also very narrowly missed the target! This end to end second half swung back and forth and the Hill needed Nic D’Arienzo to bail them out in the 72nd minute. The hosts broke through our midfield too easily and entered our box, all they had to do was beat Nic but beat him they did not. D’Arienzo came flying out of nowhere to get man and importantly the ball and win a goal kick in the process. Stellar stuff from the big Italian. The hosts were fighting to get back level, they kept picking up on some Burgess errors creeping in, they broke from a Kieran Rowe misplaced pass but luckily only fired straight at Huffer once again. This friendly heading into the final 10 minutes was perfectly poised. A Hill corner came all the way to the back post for a Trialist and just as it looked he had a clear shot on goal, a Chipstead defender did brilliantly to fly across and block it. Those pesky Hillians weren’t to be denied a winner for much longer, though. That same Trialist who was denied by the block turned provider, whipping a delicious cross onto the head of Charlie Kelly who powered it down into the ground and into the bottom corner to grab our 4th successive away pre-season win.
A tale of 2 halves! A good comeback from Jay Lovett’s boys in our 5th pre-season friendly.
Next up, we return back home on Wednesday evening as we welcome a young Brighton&Hove Albion XI to the More Than Tyres Stadium.