On what was a throughly enjoyable evening in the Hill amongst a big vocal crowd, both sets of players served up some entertaining football to quench the thirst of the 579 inside Paradise.
It was the Bluebell’s from Hanbury who made the brighter start to proceedings, the first chance came when a low cross in from the right hand side by Danny Divine went all the way to the far post where it hit Brad Santos and hurtled towards goal, luckily Brad just got back in the nick of time to clear it off the goal line! Former Hill favourite Taylor Seymour was back between the sticks due to Will Huffers injury and he was wasting no time in making extraordinary saves. Jake Lindsey and Callum Chesworth played a neat one two and Lindsey was in on goal with only Seymour to beat but beat him he could not as Seymour rushed out of his goal to make a vital save. Another vital save was on the way just 4 minutes later as Melford Simpson played Jake Lindsey in behind again, he twisted and turned away from Dan Cadman before striking but this time the feet of Seymour denied him. Those 2 saves proved absolutely crucial as slightly against the run of play, it was the Hillians who broke the deadlock. Hayden Skerry won the Hill a corner and in it came, it looped up in the air before Billy Collings could only palm it clear straight to Lewis Finney who struck the ball through the crowd of players, past the guy on the line and into the back of the net. That goal got Hillians tails up. We won a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box and up stepped Connor Tighe who tried to catch Collings out on his side but it was tipped away by the former Hill GK. Haywards Heath at this point we’re hanging on and waiting for HT and Jeff Duah-Kessie almost made them pay. Some more good work from Hayden Skerry saw him set Jeff away, he was one on one with Tom Gilbert and he put him in a spin cycle before firing with his left foot but it took a vital deflection to take it past the post.
The Hill started the half off brightly, Connor Tighe had an early free kick which this time he went for power but it was always rising and fizzed a couple of inches over the crossbar. 10 minutes into the second half, Haywards should’ve equalised. A corner was fired to the back post where sub Tom Collins headed it back across goal for Danny Divine to nod home, he would’ve done exactly that but Kieran Rowe stayed on the post and just managed to wack it clear before it crossed the line. As Haywards were inevitably pushing for an equaliser, the Hill were trying to kill the game off. Some more excellent hold up play from Jeff Duah-Kessie saw him tee up Lewis Finney but the goal scorers strike took a deflection and flew away from goal. We absolutely love a corner routine down at the Hill but they weren’t quite coming off today, Martyn Box was found on the edge of the box from a short corner but he got his shot all wrong. We needed that 2nd goal to kill the game off but it just wasn’t coming. Hayden Skerry slipped in Lewis Finney but Billy Collings was out quick to make it virtually impossible for him to double our lead. Another chance came and went when Jeff Duah-Kessie set up Connor Tighe who’s effort rather dribbled harmlessly wide of the far post. We’re we going to regret these chances? Yes. Yes we were. Just 2 minutes later, the Heath were level. It was all rather simple for Heath as well, Dean Gunner brought the ball up from the back under no pressure, he laid it off to Alahady Jalloh, Gunner carried on his run and got himself into the box. Jalloh whipped it in and there was Gunner who looped a header up and over Seymour and into the back of the net. Blast. Very much against the run of play, a bit like the Hill opener in fairness. The Hill were stung by that goal but quickly attempted to get the lead back. A Nic D’Arienzo long throw was flicked on by Jeff Duah-Kessie and it forced Billy Collings into tipping the ball over the bar. Another neat corner routine? Oh go on then. From virtually the halfway line Connor Tighe burst down the touchline to out fox everyone, he clipped a ball in that was cleared as far as Josh Spinks, he hit it on the volley and it went as well as a man who has never scored a competitive goal for us would strike it. Jeff Duah-Kessie was doing everything right in this one apart from score. He once again turned away from a defender when he maybe could’ve gone down, before his left footed shot was once again deflected behind for a corner. There was only one team looking to win it and it was Hill but we just couldn’t find that second goal. A brilliant corner into the area somehow missed everyone before it was hooked to the far post and it again just eluded anyone in Green and Black. Hill were starting to get desperate now and a Connor Tighe 30 yarder was comfortably dealt with by Collings. Would there be one last chance? You know there always is. Substitute Charlie Kelly curled a cross to the far post but the only trouble was, it was Brad Santos coming in and he’s the smallest man on the pitch! Brad leapt and craned his neck with all his might but it cruelly sailed millimetres away from his cranium and with that, so did Hills chances of 3 points.
Hill dominated in the second half and will probably feel they should’ve won it but if it wasn’t for 2 vital Taylor Seymour saves in the first half, Haywards would’ve been out of sight. Both sides can be equally happy and unhappy all at the same time!
Next up for the Hill it’s a return to FA Trophy action when we travel to Sittingbourne to take on the Brickies.