Facing a second successive Step 3 club away from home in the Emirates FA Cup was always going to be a tall order for Jay Lovett’s men but the Hillians were certainly not disgraced and if a few more 50/50 decisions went our way, then it might’ve been a different story.
The hosts started like a house on fire (wrong emergency services) and could’ve been ahead in the first minute. A cross in from the left hand side was headed back across goal by Josh Keeya and almost looped in over debutant GK Enos Duah but luckily for Hill, it dropped past the post. The Hillians were struggling in the opening 15 minutes and the hosts were well on top. Enos Duah was called into action when a corner was met by a Met player and it thundered towards goal but it drew a brilliant fingertip save from the on loan Sutton man to keep the scores level. It didn’t remain level for long however, as midway through the first half, the Police took the lead. Avoidable goals have been creeping into our game lately and this was unfortunately another which falls into that category. It was just a hopeful long ball that, instead of clearing, Josh Spinks let bounce. He then attempted to head it back to Enos Duah but left it short and with the GK in no man’s land, Ollie Knight produced a lovely lob over the helpless GK to give the Police the lead. The Hillians had to wait until the 41st minute to have a shot on goal. It all came from great work from Hayden Skerry to keep hold of the ball and drive the Hill upfield, he then laid it off to Lewis Finney on the edge of the box and Finney let fly, he caught it sweetly but the ball whistled just wide of the post but it was better play from the Hillians.
The Hillians knew they would have to improve greatly if they were to rectify a below par first half and they equalised with the first meaningful attempt of the second 45. In truth, it was a bit against the run of play but did we care? No. Max Miller got the ball on the right hand side and chipped a ball into the box, it was then accidentally flicked on by a Police defender and it fell perfectly for Jeff Duah-Kessie to smash his strike hard and low into the bottom corner to spark wild scenes amongst players and fans. This equaliser ensured the Hillians were well and truly on top and we could smell a turnaround, right up until we conceded a penalty, got a man sent off and lost the lead again, all in the same passage of play. Jeff Duah-Kessie was brought down on the edge of the box but the referee waved it away and Met Police broke. Brad Santos got the wrong side of his man in the box and couldn’t avoid a clumsy tangle of legs, unfortunately, Brad had just been booked and the referee didn’t hesitate in brandishing a second yellow. Up stepped Archy Taylor, Enos Duah did guess the right way and was millimetres away from saving it but the pen was too good and the Met retook the lead. That Pen/Red combination completely knocked the stuffing out of Hill and 2-1 became 3-1. Jay Lovett will be left scratching his head after this one, a corner was swung in and Josh Keeya had the freedom of the whole box to head home past Enos Duah. The final exchanges of this one saw the Met try and add to the scoreline, a shot was deflected inches over before they butchered a one on one opportunity and sent the ball flying towards Twickenham. Matter not as the Met saw the resulting minutes out and progressed into the next round.
A disappointing afternoon for the Hill with Met Police deservedly the victors but no doubt the Penalty and Red card had a big impact on the ending to the match.
We don’t have to wait long to put this disappointment behind us, as on Tuesday it is the Mid Sussex Derby as Haywards Heath Town come to Paradise.