Burgess Hill Town hosted Walton & Hersham in this midweek fixture that saw ticketholders from the Dartford game last month gain entry for just £1.
A good crowd of 346 turned out to watch Hill try and keep their impressive unbeaten streak going.
With changes to the squad after injuries, Ian Chapman’s side looked to be struggling early on in the first half and this enabled Walton & Hersham to take an early lead. Anthony Oaks thundered a shot from the outside of the box straight into the top right corner where Josh James in the Hill goal had no chance of saving it.
Going ahead so early on seemed to spur Walton & Hersham on and they kept up their pace and were consistently challenging the Burgess Hill defence. Lee Harding had Burgess Hill Town’s first chance of the evening when he found himself in space and managed to pull off a low, hard shot at the opposition’s goal but it turned out to be an easy save for Gary Ross who then cleared the ball to safety.
Frustration began to grow within the Burgess Hill squad as any attempt at goal was shut down by the Walton defence. Rob O’Toole was given the chance to create a scoring opportunity after Hill were awarded a free kick for a foul on Graham Martin. O’Toole opted to take a shot on goal but his effort was not successful and flew over the cross bar. Walton & Hersham retaliated soon after and their attacking run on goal saw Joshua Cover brought down just inside the box by goalkeeper Josh James. James was booked and Walton & Hersham were awarded a penalty which striker James Cottee comfortably slotted home to double Walton & Hersham’s lead.
Half time saw Ian Chapman make two changes to his squad and replaced Graham Martin and Rob O’Toole with Joe Keehan and Dan Perry. Joe Keehan was quick to make his presence known after a Sam Fisk long throw in found him in the box which he flicked on towards Lee Harding who saw his shot denied by the Walton & Hersham defence. Burgess Hill Town got a goal back on 56 minutes when Gary Ross in the Walton & Hersham goal made a poor clearance which ricocheted off his teammate and rebounded back into his own goal.
Hill’s performance in the second half compared to the first was much improved and they created more scoring opportunities and kept more possession of the ball.
Lee Harding came agonisingly close to putting Hill level when Spencer Slaughter crossed a good ball in where Lee was waiting to head home. Unfortunately for Burgess Hill, Gary Ross did very well to get his fingers to the ball and tip it over the bar for a corner. Despite not being able to get himself on the team sheet, Lee Harding went on to set up Burgess Hill Town’s equalising goal by crossing the ball into the box where after a little confusion, Joe Keehan was able to toe the ball past the keeper, much to the delight of the large number of home supporters. Ian Chapman made one further change on 77 minutes when Scott Kirkwood replaced captain Darren Budd. B
urgess Hill Town’s last attempt of the game fell to Dan Pearse who sent a low shot goal bound but was denied once again by Gary Ross in the Walton & Hersham goal.
Burgess Hill Town’s fighting spirit in the second half saw them secure a valuable point that retains their impressive uneaten run of the league season so far and maintains their position at the top of the Ryman One South league table. Match sponsors DPS Architectural Constultants awarded their man of the match to second half substitute Joe Keehan.
Burgess Hill Town: Josh James, Spencer Slaughter, Sam Fisk Darren Budd (Scott Kirkwood 77), Andy Pearson, Stuart Tuck, Dan Pearse, Graham Martin (Joe Keehan 45), Pat Harding, Lee Harding, Rob O’Toole (Dan Perry 45)
Unused Subs: Lukas Franzen-Jones, Will Miles