Quite frankly, if you win in this heat it’s perfect weather, if you lose it’s too hot. I can confirm, it was too hot.
Burgess Hill Town welcomed Ashford United to the More Than Tyres Stadium to kick off the 2022/23 Isthmian league campaign but it wasn’t the start the vast majority of the 323 in attendance were hoping for.
It was a very quiet start to proceedings, and I think it’s safe to say we can all put this down to the scorching heat that was being belted down on the 22 players. It was understandable to take them a while to get used to it. Our first chance came in the 14th minute, Lewis Finney clipped a teasing free kick towards the captain Josh Spinks, it was cut out in the nick of time but it fell to Hayden Skerry who saw a low drive from 18 yards well blocked. That will become a theme. Ashford and Blocks. Like Lego. But. Kentish. The Nuts and Bolts first half chance came shortly afterwards, a corner came through to the back post where it was headed back across goal but too high. A warning for the Hill, though. The deadlock was almost broken in some style in the 24th minute! Burgess Hill briefly turned into prime Barcelona, playing one touch passes across the pitch, eventually Hayden Skerry clipped a ball through to Lewis Finney who’s first time effort was very well saved by Jacob Russell. As the first half grew on, the team from Homelands were making themselves at home, a run down the right hand side saw a cross into the box, it went over the head of Josh Spinks and landed at the feet of an Ashford attacker, under pressure from Reggie Ward and with Will Huffer out quickly, the attacker could only stab it over the bar. Right on the stroke of HT, the deadlock was broken. A long throw by Bradley Simms was only partially cleared, Johan Ter Horst kept it alive and flicked it on to Liam Friend who beat Will Huffer to the ball and knocked it past him and into the goal. Not a goal that anyone defensively for Hill will want to watch back. Sloppy. If conceding 1 in the 45th minute was less than ideal, we could be quite thankful that lead wasn’t doubled almost immediately from kick off! Bradley Simms found the overlapping Lanre Azeez who whipped in a dangerous cross which an Ashford forward somehow didn’t convert.
Ashford started the second half as they finished the first. On top. Stephen Okoh cut in from the left and played a cracking through ball to Johan Ter Horst. The ex Hull City man only had Will Huffer to beat but Dan Cadman did brilliantly to get back and put in a cracking block. The rebound then fell to a visiting player who tried to chip the keeper but Josh Spinks just got enough on it to force it over the crossbar. The Ashford captain Liam Friend is not known for his goalscoring but after opening the scoring, he almost grabbed a second. A corner was planted perfectly on his head but Will Huffer stood strong and repelled the danger. The Hillians were just waiting for someone to spark them into life, Kieran Rowe was doing his best to provide this, setting up Lewis Finney who pulled a shot wide before feeding Jeff Duah-Kessie who cut in from the right but dragged a shot, also wide. Better though from Jay Lovett’s boys. Entering the final echelons of this contest, it suddenly dawned on the chaps that we could do with a goal here. Lewis Finney had 2 more attempts which were brilliantly blocked before substitute Max Miller got away down the right and forced Jacob Russell to tip a rasping drive over the bar. With 9 minutes to go, the Hill got the golden chance they had been waiting for. Reggie Ward produced a luscious cross which dipped perfectly onto the head of Dan Perry, but perhaps a bit unsighted, Perry could only mistime his header and head way wide from 8 yards out.
A rather frustrating afternoon, which the Hill will feel they should’ve been walking away with at least a point.
The Hillians MOTM was awarded to Kieran Rowe, by our match sponsors, George and Gary on tour.
No time to dwell! We are straight back into action as we head to Chichester City on Tuesday night for some more Isthmian league footie. Glorious. Join us.