After 3 consecutive postponements and off the field troubles, the Hillians were just delighted to get back on the pitch when we made the early trip to Littlehampton for the annual Boxing Day fun.
The game started how some might of expected it to being a 12:30 start on Boxing Day after both teams haven’t played in over 3 weeks. Very slowly. The first attempt of the game came for the hosts but a long ranger was easily gathered by Will Huffer. Truth be told, the hosts settled much the quicker. A couple of set pieces caused the Hillians back line a bit of bother but clear chances weren’t forthcoming in the opening stages of this supposed Christmas cracker. The Hillians first foray forward tested the flexibility of LA defender, Marshall Ball. Max Miller whipped a teasing ball in which was destined to fall for a Hillian attacker until Ball used all of his length to stretch and intercept. Straight down the other end, the hosts were intent on getting shots off at Huffer, another long ranger this time fizzed wide of the big man’s post. The Hillians hadn’t really got going in the opening 25 minutes and that was summed up when the Hill presented an LA attacker with a poor back pass but he slipped at the vital time and his show sailed towards the sea. It’s a funny old game. The Hill hadn’t had a shot all game but Max Miller almost gave us the lead with our first. Kieran Rowe slipped a delightful through ball for Maxy, James Binfield made a good save before the rebound just didn’t fall to a Hill attacker and it was scrambled away, quite fortunately for the hosts. LA had a couple of former Hillians in the ranks and one of them, Scott Kirkwood is something of a legend around Mid Sussex. In theory we should know all about his qualities but we were letting him run the show in the middle of the park, he waltzed through our static midfield too easily before he almost caught Huffer out with a low drive which the GK did really well to get down to as it was sneaking in. The game had suddenly awoken up to end to end action! Ashley Elson completely outmuscled Dion Jarvis and crossed for Lewis Finney, his volley was blocked before it fell to Max Miller who made a right hash of it and it flew wide. After a slow start, there was no doubt Jay Lovetts men were ending the half the stronger. Kieran Rowe slipped in Ashley Elson on the left hand channel, he cut inside and his effort was bending in the top corner but it took a wicked deflection and almost flew in the opposite corner but landed just wide. From the resulting corner, Josh Spinks got to the near post and flicked it towards goal, James Binfield tipped it against the inside of the post before luckily for him, he managed to catch the rebound and thwart the deadlock being broken.
If the first half started slow, the second half didn’t particularly start rapidly either. The Hillians were getting more on the ball and looking to be on the front foot but a sedate first 15 minutes once again greeted the 321 festive followers to this occasion. The Hillians almost opened the scoring in the 60th minute but a quite unbelievable goalline clearance put pay to that. Max Miller over hit a cross from the right but it went over James Binfield in the Golds goal and looked to be dropping in or for Dan Perry to nod home but home winger Lucas Pattenden somehow headed off the line, I assure you it was greater than I make it sound. Unfortunately for Lucas, his hard work to stop us opening the scoring lasted all of about a minute. Littlehampton never really cleared the ball probably and Lewis Finney rode a tackle on the right hand side and bared down on goal before unleashing an effort from 25 yards out. It took a wicked deflection off a Gold defender which saw it loop up and James Binfield and into the top corner to give the Hill the lead. That goal rocked the hosts and it seemed like the Hillians were going to build on this and potentially grab a game clinching second. Until disaster struck. Kieran Rowe, who has arguably been Burgess Hills player of the season, attempted to pass the ball back to Will Huffer, unfortunately he completely failed to look and presented it to George Gaskin who had the simple task of slotting past a helpless Huffer and blow all our hard work in gaining the lead. Truth be told, hardly anything happened after this. A lot of counter attacks for both sides being halted abruptly which saw a plethora of yellow cards halted either sides momentum but there is always one last chance and it fell to the man you would want it to fall too. A long ball was missed by the LA back line and Dan Perry was in but on a tight angle. He just needed to compose himself or perhaps square it for Lewis Finney but he unfortunately did neither, rushing it and slashing an effort horribly wide in what probably summed up the encounter.
An away point is always handy but from a winning position, it’s another victory squandered.
Next up, we will not be returning to the More Than Tyres just yet as the recent fire at the club has meant our game with Three Bridges will be played AT Three Bridges on January 2nd. 1pm KO. See you there.