Non-League Day. The occasion where fans of professional clubs, who might not be playing due to the International Break, venture on down to their local semi professional club and embrace what Non League is all about. If any fans of, say, Brighton & Hove Albion, came down to Paradise, they might of just caught the ‘non-league’ bug as what they would’ve saw. Was absolutely. Unequivocally. Mayhem.
Lewis Taylor made 4 signings in the week and gave debuts to Nathan Daly and Josiah Bridgeman. The first Hillians chance of the afternoon fell to Daly, Chats GK Nathan Harvey dropped a corner and it fell to Daly at the far post but under strong pressure from the Chatham defenders, Daly could only poke wide from a tight angle. Straight back on the attack were the Hillians, Max Miller turned on the turbos to skin a Chats defender, he whipped a splendid cross towards the Hitman but on the stretch, Perry fired over. It was a really strong opening 15/20 minutes for the Hill, another chance came and went for Hill when Dave Martin recycled a corner and crossed it in, it came to Martyn Box who tried an audacious overhead kick which actually turned into a good pass for Perry, but on the turn he smashed over. What happened next, was potentially game changing. The vastly experienced Dean Beckwith tried to see a ball out of play, but Hitman had other ideas, winning it off him and bearing down on goal. Beckwith knew he was the wrong side so fell to the floor and grabbed the football to stop Perry bursting away. He was out wide on the left and not centrally, however he was the last man and Perry would’ve been in so Mr. Referee brandished Beckwith with a straight red card in just the 23rd minute. The Hillians had the wind with them in the first half and forced countless of set pieces, which sadly we didn’t do enough with. George Griffiths, who has impressed since joining, whipped a dangerous free kick in from out wide left, and it flicked off a Chatham defender and it looped agonisingly for the Hill over the bar. The final chance in a half in which the Hill dominated, fell to Dave Martin, he had a bit of space 25 yards out and took aim, Nathan Harvey dived to his right to push the effort away.
All clubs and especially managers will play coy and pretend they don’t know other results and scores from the league, but the Chats would’ve surely known that their title rivals, Ramsgate, were losing at HT. They had the first chance of the half, and their first of the whole game and what a chance it was. Former Hillian Che Krabbendam just waltzed down the right hand side and slung a cross into the box, somehow no one picked up AFC Wimbledon legend Danny Kedwell at the back post but Will Huffer somehow got a fingertip on his bullet header to tip it onto the crossbar. Back came the Hillians down the other end, Max Miller forcing Nathan Harvey into a stinging stop but still no breakthrough. The Chats were indebted to their GK moments later as a corner come in and flying at goal with a diving header was Nathan Daly, it was purely reflexes and instinct but somehow Nathan Harvey dived to his right and kept out the debutant defender. The second half was extremely end to end and just after we could’ve opened the scoring, the visitors almost did it instead. A neat move between Krabbendam, Robins and Kedwell saw the latter flick the ball to Krabbendam, he then in turn looked to bend an effort from the edge of the area into the bottom corner, and he was a whisker away from doing so. The clock was ticking down and still somehow this game was goalless, Kieran Rowe benefited from a lucky bounce and it opened up for him to crack but again, straight at Nathan Harvey. If the on loan Charlton GK was having an impressive day doing what he’s paid to do…. Well. You simply won’t believe that he’s also the match winner. Their had been a very strong wind blowing all game long, I mentioned that Hill hadn’t made use of it first half but I didn’t imagine for once second this would happen. Nathan Harvey heaved a goal kick down field which caught the wind and made Will Huffer have to back pedal, unfortunately for Huffer, as he did this, he slipped over and could only watch as the ball sailed over him and flew into the back of the net to stun the 847 crowd. Have you ever. In all your life. Seen anything like it. You thought that was the end of the drama? You silly sausage you. Just 3 minutes later, the very same Nathan Harvey decided to pick up a back pass, boot the ball downfield in frustration and then lash out at Dan Perry, something only spotted by the linesman it seemed. For the second time, out came the red card and off the GK went. Pandemonium. That left 39 year old ST Danny Kedwell to go in goal for the remainder of time. Astonishing. The Hillians could not capitalise on having 11 men Vs 9 unfortunately though, with only Lewis Finney mustering a shot at Kedwell’s goal, which he fell on rather fortunately. If all that wasn’t quite enough. Hayden Skerry was the third man sent off deep in added time and quite what for, we could not possibly tell you. Rather a lot of nothing, as the replay would show. Chatham held on and we’re probably not under as much pressure as they might’ve expected towards the end, but what a gigantic missed opportunity that might turn out to be for the Hillians, who for large majority’s, played some excellent stuff.
3 red cards and Danny Kedwell in goal. Only at Burgess Hill, I assure you.
5 games remain for the Hillians to acquire the points needed to get out of trouble, starting with a tough trip to the capital next weekend to tackle Cray Valley Paper Mills.