Pitch has a say as Chapman’s men suffer Hendon loss

Hill back four line up. Toby, Andy Will and Sam
Hill back four line up. Toby, Andy Will and Sam

Burgess Hill remained in 15th place after poor pitch conditions gave rise to a disappointing 1-0 loss away to Hendon, a side who had lost their last five league games.

The Hillians went into Saturday’s tie having won only once in the last five fixtures- a 2-1 win against Pagham in the Sussex Senior Cup. They made one change to the starting line-up that drew with Billericay Town last Saturday: Toby Pointing replaced the injured Joe Keehan at right-back.

The hosts dominated the action for the vast majority of the first half; creating the first chance of the game after 15 minutes when Oliver Sprague sent a through-ball into the path of QPR loanee Ben Pattie, whose low drive across the face of the goal went just wide.

Nevertheless, their persistence paid off just three minutes later when the threatening duo of Sprague and Pattie combined again, with the former crossing to the latter, who backheeled the ball past Josh James. It would have been a tremendous goal had Kezie Ibe not stolen the accolade off his strike partner and tapped in on the goal-line.

Hendon didn’t sit back for one second and continued to cause Burgess Hill problems. Dave Diedhiou whipped in a cross that was missed by Toby Pointing and fell into the path of Aaron Morgan, whose drilled shot was superbly met by the palm of Josh James.

Just before half-time, The Hillians finally conjured up their first opportunity: Darren Budd, following some neat trickery, cut inside and lifted the ball over the Hendon defence to Pat Harding, but his header was beaten away by ‘keeper Joe Wright.

Hill livened up substantially after the interval; Chris Smith squared the ball into the box early on that was dealt with by defender Mark Kirby. He then went on a mazy run following spectacular skill from Pat Harding, but caught a bobble on the weather-affected pitch and scuffed wide.

Smith had another chance just past the hour-mark. After bursting down the right flank, dropping his shoulder and dispossessing the defender, he saw his low shot parried away by the goalkeeper; much to the frustration of himself and, equally, his associates.

Hendon almost added insult to injury in the last minute, when Josh James took a halfway-line free kick that was headed away by the home side to the feet of Aaron Morgan. He had the chance to shoot at an open goal from fifty yards, forty yards, thirty yards even but carried on running and was eventually met by James.

A frustrating day all round for Burgess Hill: Failing to score against a side who have not kept a clean sheet since the 22nd August, and falling to 15th in the table after other results didn’t go their way. Next up is a tough away fixture at 2nd placed Tonbridge Angels next Saturday.

HILLIANS: James, Pointing, Fisk, Budd, Pearson, Miles, Kirkwood, Pearse (Gargan 84), L.Harding (Wiltshire 63), Smith, P.Harding (Bolton 84)

HENDON: Wright, Vassell, Sprague, Flegg, Kirby, Diedhiou, Robins (Cracknell 78), Murphy, Pattie (Fonguck 78), Ibe, Morgan.

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