On the face of it, people might not of realised what a big game it was. Chichester, after a cracking run had safely moved into mid table and away from the dogfight. The Hillians, coming off the back of 2 draws that strangely felt like losses and without a win in the calendar year, were a team desperate for 3 points.
It was a slow start by both teams in the Mid Sussex chill but it was the Hillians who fashioned the opening attempt of the evening. Hayden Skerry faced up Rob Hutchings and had him back peddling towards his own goal before cutting inside on his left and forcing Kieran Magee into a smart low stop. The City’s first chance came to the ever dangerous Lloyd Rowlatt who was allowed space on the edge of the Hillians box to shoot and he forced on loan AFC Wimbledon debutant Harry Griffiths into his own smart low save before the rebound was put across goal only for captain Josh Spinks to clear. The next two chances both came to Hill and both came from corners. The first was from the right, Hill did a good job of blocking off Chi GK, Kieran Magee and it came to Spinks at the far post but his shot was well blocked. From the corner over the other side, Lewis Finney played it short and cut it back before cutting inside and testing Magee but he was safely behind it. Harry Pollard was switched to right back for this one allowing George Brown to marshall the back 4 with Captain Spinks but that allowed Polly the freedom to get forward. A Centre Half by trade but you wouldn’t know it, he played the most delightful ball through for Dan Perry but from a tight angle, Perry fired straight at Magee. This first half was more end to end than it sounds and Chi were more than playing there part, George Brown failed to clear a cross and it fell to Emmett Dunn but once again, young Griffiths got down really smartly to tip his effort away. Just as Chi were starting to build up a slither of momentum. The Hitman struck. Kieran Rowe lost the ball and then instantly won the ball back again before playing in Lewis Finney on the left. It was exceptional from the No8, driving at the Chi defence beating 1, 2 and 3 men before laying it off to Sam Remfry. His hard and low left footed effort was well kept out by Magee but his defence let him down as no one picked up the most dangerous ST in the league as Perry reacted quickest to slam home his 21st of a remarkable campaign.
Chichester started the second half on top, nobody decided to close down the dangerous Ethan Pritchard and he let one fly with Harry Griffiths having to be alert to tip over the crossbar. You felt there was an inevitability about this second 45. Chichester were dominating the ball, almost toying with the Hillians as we got deeper and deeper. Kaleem Haitham cut inside Harry Pollard and Griffiths for the umpteenth time saved the Hillians, getting down low to turn his effort behind. The Hillians had dropped 14 points from winning positions this season. Make it 16. The defending isn’t out of place at a park somewhere watching the U9s. George Brown fails to clear his lines. Kieran Rowe fails to clear his lines. And we get punished. Chichester spread it out wide left and a lovely cross is met by Lloyd Rowlatt who is unmarked to nod past an utterly helpless Griffiths. Sigh. It had been all Chichester this second and with 15 minutes to go, you could be forgiven for fearing the worst. But for the 22nd time this season, Dan Perry single handedly yanked his boy hood club onto his back and re gave us the lead. To be fair, a lot of credit has to be given to Kai Brown, Sam Remfry fed him on the left and Brown was so positive, breezing past Davidson before standing up a cross which Dan Perry couldn’t not score him, heading home from a couple of yards to spark jubilant celebrations. All we had to do was hold on for 10 minutes. We couldn’t even hold on for 5. A free kick from the halfway line was launched into the area, Harry Griffiths punched clear but only as far as substitute Joe Moore. His shot was blocked but it came to fellow substitute Alex Weinberger who had literally just come on and he fired an effort through a crowd of players and past Griffiths despite his best efforts. Gut wrenching. Lewis Finney, who was quiet by his lofty high standards did have a half chance to win it when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box but he dragged his shot wide and time, hope and confidence was slipping away very, very quickly. The only thing that won’t surprise you about this report is Chichester didn’t nick it in added time. Burgess Hill defenders do not defend. Harry Pollard decided to launch the ball towards his own goal, it was crossed in and it came to Ethan Pritchard who smashed it on the volley, the whole ground held its breath but thank the stars the ball flew across the goal and wide and not in Griffiths bottom corner. My word.
FT: 2-2. Sixteen points dropped from winning positions. No win in 8 games. It’s hard to find the positives. It’s hard to even see light at the end of the tunnel.
Next Up, we are back at home again on Saturday against a team who we arguably produced our performance of the season against in Sheppey Utd. The win will come. The tide will turn. Every little thing, is gonna be alright.