The post Jay Lovett era was upon us but the tough reigns were bestowed upon Gary Mansell and Adie Clayton to try and guide a confidence lacking Hillians to victory.
The Hillians started the match extremely brightly and created the games first chance. Reggie Ward kept the ball in down the right and hooked a first time cross in, Dan Perry found Martyn Box on the other flank and Boxy’s teasing ball in was headed off the line by Antone Douglas before Dan Perry had the rebound taken off his toe by Karn Miller-Neave. The good early start by the Hillians was continuing, Martyn Box and Dan Cadman played a nice one-two before Box whipped his cross in. It was cleared to the edge of the area where Kieran Rowe fired a vicious shot towards goal which wasn’t too far away from flying in. You felt the Hillians needed a goal to make their early dominance count. Lewis Finney did really well to win the ball back high up the pitch and feed Kai Brown on the right. He whipped a dangerous fizzing cross across the box where Martyn Box hurled himself at the ball but it was an inch ahead of him. Finally, on the 29th minute, the Hill broke the deadlock through an unlikely source. It was a wonderful team move which did the trick, Spinks, Rowe, Cadman and Finney all combined before the latter sprayed it wide right to Reggie Ward. Our star RB, cut inside Miller-Neave before motoring towards the box, he left multiple Oaks defenders in his wake before firing a low left footed drive across the GK and into the bottom corner. The dominant first half continued. Connor Tighe looked somewhat back to his sparkling best, he crossed for Dan Perry who you would’ve put your house on him hitting the target but he dragged wide with the goal gaping. Chances came and chances went for Hill to extend the lead. A very similar move down the left saw Martyn Box breeze past Rian Bray before standing a cross to the far post where Lewis Finney waited, he like Perry also didn’t connect how he wanted to and his effort was cleared away by the run ragged Oaks defence.
Sevenoaks must’ve got an absolute rollicking at halftime for quite a lacklustre first half showing but Harry Hudson’s players certainly turned up for the second half. They were given a massive chance just 8 minutes into the second half when we failed to cut out a long ball and Solomon Baugh raced onto it but with only Will Huffer to beat, he couldn’t do it as the Huffman made a vital save. Just 16 minutes remained but constant Sevenoaks pressure eventually broke the Hill defence down. Kieran Cadogan twisted left and right like he was on a roundabout, eventually standing up a cross where the unmarked left back, Karn Miller-Neave headed past Will Huffer to silence Mid Sussex. The Hillians, ahead for so long, looked to respond straight away. Substitute Brad Santos did brilliantly to break from midfield and lead the charge, he laid it off to Kai Brown but the Leylands bobble did for him, as he sent his effort into the greenery of the trees. What happened next will be a debate that rumbles on for quite some time. The Hillians didn’t clear their lines and Karn Miller-Neave attempted to get to the ball ahead of Harry Pollard. He did that but then flung himself to the ground under very minimal contact from Polly but the referee thought otherwise and pointed to the spot. The protest were lengthy, including 3 yellow cards for Hill players and a second yellow for Harry Pollard for the ‘foul’. Up stepped Kieran Cadogan to cooly tuck away the spot kick and give the Oaks the lead. The Hill were still reeling from the penalty/red card and Sevenoaks were not in a mood to forgive. Kieran Cadogan won a header which set substitute David Kawa away, he beat both Hill CB’s before smashing past Will Huffer to seal the comeback victory for Hudson’s impressive outfit.
After a really strong first half where we could’ve been more to the good, missed chances ultimately cost us as a strong Sevenoaks side showed their powers of recovery.
Games come thick and fast and we return to action on Tuesday evening when we travel to top of the form guide, Hythe Town.