The Hillians harshly exited the Velocity Trophy losing 3-2 to Three Bridges. Manager Dean Cox made nine changes with only James Shaw and Jack Taylor playing from Saturday’s Trophy game against Hythe.
It was a very youthful Hillians side which included 7 under 18’s making their debuts as they put in a terrific performance against their more experienced hosts.
The game did in fact get off to the worst possible start for the Hillians though as Bridges took the lead after just 30 seconds as Kevin Rivera hit a defence splitting pass through to Noel Leighton and he slipped his shot beyond former Bridges keeper James Shaw.
After that start the Hillians settled into the game with Joe Overy looking bright and he saw his cross deflected over the bar by former Hill stopper, Mitch Bromage. At the other end Cameron Lawson nearly doubled Bridges lead when he fired over.
The Hillians did equalise on 33 minutes through a goal made by the youth team. Overy burst down right and crossed for Noah Hoffman to slam home at the far post for his first senior goal on his debut.
7 minutes later the game had turned on its head as the Hillians took the lead. A mistake by Bromage saw his pass go straight to Hoffman and he kept his composure by squaring it to Tommy Blennerhassett to tap in for the Hillians for his first goal for the club.
On the stroke of half time the Hillians nearly extended their lead as another U18, also impressing, Samuel Forbes-Parker hit a cracking left foot volley that went just over.
Following that on loan MK-Dons forward, Blennerhassett, also had a chance to make it three.
Callaghan Stobart, making his first start since arriving in the summer from Lancing, had the first chance of the second half but his effort was matched by Bromage.
Shaw made a good save in the Hillians goal but soon after it was 2-2 as Leighton netted his second of the game when he bundled the ball home.
Both sides continued to have chances, Tressor Difika saw an effort saved by Shaw whilst Bromage made a fingertip save to stop Harry Lawson’s curling shot following Overy’s cut back.
Bromage again saved Bridges as he stopped Dylan Hurst before the hosts took the lead which was ultimately the winning goal as Ethon Archer’s 25 yard swerving drive went in.
Sub Kieron Pamment almost made a quick impact as he was played in by Overy and beat Bromage only to be denied by an excellent goal line clearance by Harvey Woollard.
Both sides had chances in the final 10 minutes but it was Bridges who moved through to the next round. The young Hillians though can be proud of their performance and matched Bridges superbly in an entertaining evening. From the 10 outfield players that started the match there was an average age of 17.6 years so it goes to show the future looks bright.
Manager Dean Cox tweeted after the game his pride in the young Hillians saying “Really proud tonight, the young guns performed fantastically. The future is certainly bright”.
Under 18’s Manager Gary Mansell also tweeted on the evening saying “Very proud evening tonight. No fewer than 7 of our BHTFC U18’s were involved and all of them were top class. Makes all the hard work worthwhile”.
Hillians: James Shaw, Zack Lawrence (Marcel Powell 45), Callaghan Stobart, Harry Lawson, Jack Taylor, Samuel Forbes-Parker, Joe Overy, Tyrese Mthunzi, Tommy Blennerhassett (Martyn Box 86), Dylan Hurst (Kieron Pamment 74), Noah Hoffman (Theo Maryon 62). Not used: Sonni Carter.