The Hill needed Isthmian League points like humans need oxygen but we travelled to a venue where we have unhappy memories of, losing our last 2 at VCD without scoring a goal.
It was the Hill who had the first chance in London, a corner was met by Hayden Skerry who flicked on and in round the back came Josh Spinks but the angle was too tight and he only found the side netting. Anyone who knows anything about this league and VCD in particular know they are a big physical side who always pose a threat from set pieces and they should’ve opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Will Huffer missed a corner and it seemed easier to score than miss but miss they somehow did as we scrambled it away. Soul Kader the VCD striker scored both the Vickers goal when they beat us 2-1 in Mid Sussex earlier in season and he missed a good chance to open the scoring here when Brad Santos was turned inside out and a low cross was poked wide by Kader. In the 16th minute, the Hill had a glorious chance to take the lead. Hayden Skerry slipped new signing Kai Brown in on goal but he couldn’t beat Jordan Gillmore on debut who produced a good point blank save. Not much else happened for the majority of the first half, it had 0-0 written all over it. Up until. It wasn’t 0-0. VCD won a dubious corner when it seemed that the ball had already gone out but the linesman didn’t see it that way. In the corner came, out Huffer came, missed the ball and it fell kindly for Soul Kader to have his easiest goal all season. Dismal defending which has very quickly become normality. The first half was drawing to a close but not quick enough for a Hill team who looked like they wanted to be anywhere else. It was only Will Huffer who prevented Jay Lovett’s teamtalk being 10x sterner, providing a vital save on the stroke of HT.
There will be no prizes for guessing what the focal point of this weeks training will be for Hill. Set pieces. VCD won a free kick just inside our half that they pinged to the far post, nobody marked the first man who had a free header to nod it back across goal and nobody marked the second man, who could’ve done a lap of the pitch and then still scored he was so free. As school boy as errors go. Weak. Jay Lovett had to do something and he made a double change, introducing Reggie Ward and Lewis Croal. The latter changed the entire game. Almost instantly Croal found Kai Brown who was bright all afternoon, he crossed for the Hitman whose first effort was saved and incredibly, so was the rebound. Some debut by the on loan Millwall GK, Jordan Gillmore. Never get too high. Never get too low. That’s probably what Gillmore was getting told as after saving his team, he instantly cost them. A long ball was hoofed down field, Gillmore and Snelling made a pigs ear of clearing it and led to Dan Perry slamming into the empty net from 18 yards. Completely undeserved. Completely needed. All it took was a goal. Suddenly. The dead. Rose. The most Bipolar football team in all of the land lived up to their nickname once again. Just 4 minutes ago they were doomed. Now. They were level. The Hill won a corner and it was played short to Hayden Skerry. Josh Spinks flicked it on with an audacious back heel and Lewis Finney nipped round the back, reacting quickest to nutmeg Gillmore, causing the blood pressure of the 30+ Hillians behind the goal to rise, causing the local hospitals to shake with fear. Why is every game so stressful? VCD had completely folded like a cheap pack of cards but they were stirring again. A combination of Will Huffer and Harry Pollard prevented the hosts from retaking the lead. This game could finish any scoreline quite frankly. Especially the way we defend. A lump upfield caused Josh Spinks and Harry Pollard to both forget momentarily how to defend. Soul Kader nipped ahead of both of them and crossed for the far post where a Vicker was unmarked. Fortunately for Hill, the cross was fraction too high and he could only find the side netting. My bloody nerves. Into the last 5 minutes and chances continued to come at both ends. A corner was delivered and Martyn Box got free but he looped his header over the bar. Suddenly it was the Hill who were finishing stronger. Box fed Brown down the left who skinned full back Jack Holland, before pulling it back into the danger zone. Lewis Finney was free but it was behind him however it came to Dan Perry but his effort was blocked. Fine. Margins. As the clock struck 90 and this quite bonkers game of association football was drawing to a close, Burgess Hill won a penalty. VCD failed to clear the ball from a set piece and Josh Spinks kept it alive and went down under a challenge from a Vicker. PENALTY said Mr Referee (it was dubious) but did we care? HA. All eyes fell on 20 goal man Dan Perry. Remember that debut GK VCD were playing. Yeah. Jordan Gillmore guessed right and thwarted Dan Perry’s really poor penalty and then got to the rebound first as well to stop it spinning into the net. It never rains, it pours. You think that was the end of the drama? Oh no. VCD broke down the other end and in my honest opinion, should of been awarded a penalty themselves. Nothing given. They then almost won it but it was blocked on the line. The VCD coaching staff were absolutely hopping mad. They almost left the game sick. Lewis Croal countered and fed Dan Perry, he was through on goal with about 5 seconds to go, there was a VCD defender who was their last hope, well he ended up on his backside after Perry nutmegged him. Only Jordan Gillmore to beat, he beat him but in the most cruel ending imaginable. Perry rattled the post. Instantly the referees whistle went. Hillians dropped to their knees. They fought back from the brink of defeat, to have a winner flash before their eyes. It’s a cruel sport.
It’s a point we will certainly take after our first 60 minute showing. Yet we can’t shake off the feeling that it could’ve, and maybe should’ve, been all 3.
Next Up, we host Chichester City in a West Sussex Derby. 3 points is a must.