By Jack Naldrett
Burgess Hill made it 3 league wins in a row for the first time since January 2022 as a first half goal blitz blew the Wasps away and and continued Gary Mansell’s fine start to life as Hill manager.
It was a quiet start to proceedings on a cold winters afternoon in Mid Sussex and Hill had to wait until the 15th minute for their opening attempt on goal, Reggie Ward finding space 15 yards out but on his 100th appearance, the fullback couldn’t direct his effort on target.
Reece Hallard, who was making his first start in Green and Black for a long time after a horrid time out with injury, almost marked it with a freak goal as his attempted cross went nowhere near a Hill man but it did almost catch out Matte Pierson in the visiting goal, the Wasps stopper having to back pedal and grasp the ball before it looped over his head.
The Hillians took the lead in the 22nd minute with a passing team move that will warm Gary Mansell’s core. Powell, Rowe, and Budd all combined with some slick one touch football, before veteran Budd slipped Powell in down the right who continued his run from starting this very move, he then slid the ball across first time for Dan Perry and from 15 yards out, the hitman cooly stroked his effort first time around Matte Pierson and into the bottom corner to notch his 11th of the season and get the Hill on their way.
That opener seemed to awake the attacking beast and just 7 minutes later, the lead was doubled. Captain Kieran Rowe drove the Hill forward and then found Reece Hallard out on the left, Hallard raced down on goal but was denied by Pierson but the ball looped up and landed perfectly for 17 year old Noah Hoffmann to flick the ball into the empty net and notch his first ever senior league goal for the Hillians.
The Wasps simply couldn’t deal with the Hill offensively and the Hill were on a rampage and quickly added a 3rd goal. Once again it was Kieran Rowe who led the foray forward, he played a one-two with Hoffmann before laying it off to Reece Hallard, Hallard shot took a wicked deflection of Grinstead captain Ryan Green and completely wrong footed Pierson, capping off a superb 13 minute spell for the Hill.
Albeit the scoreline showed a dominant first 45 for Hill, the visitors had their chances and moments but when it’s not your day, it’s not your day. They should have pulled a goal back minutes before HT, a long throw wasn’t cleared by Hill, and it landed perfectly for Jerson Dos Santos to head home, he was denied superbly by the outstretched foot of Seymour, then it fell kindly to Matt Daniel, he was denied by a diving Martyn Box before Daniel again got the rebound and all he had to do was tap home from 6 yards and he stuck it wide.
The first half chances just kept coming and really the Hill should have added a fourth. Dan Perry turned provider as he played the most sumptuous through ball to Marcel Powell who was in behind but his dink over Matte Pierson landed the wrong side of the post.
There was still time for Taylor Seymour to make another tremendous save bang on HT as some sloppy Hill play allowed Dos Santos a shot at goal and it was flying into the roof of the net had Seymour not sprung like a feline to tip his shot up and over the bar.
The second half began with much of the same pattern as the first, with the Hill on top. Dan Perry headed over a 48th minute corner before Darren Budd saw a free kick from 25 yards tipped over by the very busy Matte Pierson.
Grinstead seemed to have no answer to stop the wave of Hill attacks as Reece Hallard continued his torment of Harrison Parker down the left before he got into the box but smacked an effort over with his left footed attempt.
Perhaps Gary will be quietly frustrated that his team only scored the 3, such was the amount of chances that were coming and going for his side, Darren Budd whipped a corner in and Jack Taylor rose well but could only glance his header wide of the post.
As much as the Mansell ethos is controlled possession with a purpose, his Hillians had plenty of moments on the counter attack as well, mostly led by the influential Rowe but the only thing missing from his performance was a goal, he ran half the length of the pitch to get into the area, he cut inside but spooned his effort wide of the goal, alas it mattered not as the Hill were content at the 3, as indeed it proved to be the magic number. 3 points, 3 goals, 3 different goal scorers and 3 league wins in succession.