Saunders brace sees Burgess Hill win local derby with Lewes

Calum Saunders, Burgess Hill Town FC SUS-150713-150257001
Calum Saunders, Burgess Hill Town FC SUS-150713-150257001
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Callum Saunders first-half brace helped the Hillians climb to seventh as they claimed the bragging rights in their local derby with Lewes.

The visitors opened the scoring through former Crawley Town man Jay Lovett, but the home team were quick to respond with two goals in three minutes from Saunders.

The hosts squandered a plethora of good chances in the second period, which made for a nervy finale, and in the end they were able to hold out for the three points.

Hill boss Ian Chapman made one change to the side that beat Dulwich Hamlet at the weekend, with captain Darren Budd returning to the starting line-up in place of Scott Kirkwood, who dropped to the bench.

Burgess Hill dominated the early exchanges, so it was against the run of play when Lovett headed home Leon Redwood’s free-kick mid-way through the first-half.

The Rooks’ lead didn’t last long though, and the Hillians levelled proceedings nine minutes later when Saunders’ shot from just outside the area found the bottom corner, after Lewes had failed to clear their lines properly.

The goal was Saunders first of the season, and three minutes later he hit his second when he reacted quickest to Pat Harding’s saved header to tap in to an empty net.

Burgess Hill had chances to add to their tally before the interval, but could have found themselves level had Henry Muggeridge’s effort been hit a couple of inches to the left.

Pat Harding had a golden opportunity to put some daylight between the two sides ten minutes into the second-half, but his header hit the foot of the post with Lewes goalkeeper Nik Tzanev well beaten

Next it was Lee Harding’s turn, however, this time Tzanev got down brilliantly to tip the ball round the post.

The clearest opening of the second period fell to Lee Harding who struck straight at Tzanev when through one-on-one, having done brilliantly to out-strength Lovett on his charge towards goal.

The Hill misses almost came back to haunt them, and when Muggeridge forced Josh James into a parry, Lovett looked certain to score from the rebound, but a combination of James and defender blocked the effort to maintain the slender advantage.

Substitute Dan Perry looked lively when he came on, and he had the Burgess Hill fans cheering as his late chip looked like it was going to nestle into the bottom corner; the cheer turning to a collective agonizing sigh as it bobbled out for a goal-kick.

The Hillians ran down the clock and the final whistle was a relief for Chapman and his team, where they were made to endure a tense final few minutes as Lewes looked to salvage a point from the game.

Burgess Hill should have been out of sight with the amount of chances they created, but the result is what matters, and it sees them creep closer to the play-off places after an indifferent start to the campaign.

MOM: Callum Saunders – The wide-man is finally off the mark for the season and his two goals were the difference between the teams on the night.

HILLIANS: James, Pointing, Fisk, Budd (Bolton 81), Pearson, Miles, Pearse (Kirkwood 56), Keehan, P.Harding, Saunders (Perry 70), L.Harding.

UNUSED SUBS: Smith, Wiltshire

LEWES: Tzanev, Muggeridge, Marsh-Brown, Brown, Badger, Lovett, Conlon, Redwood, Deen, Laing, Levy.

UNUSED SUBS: Wilson, Williams, Logan, Crabb, Hutchins

ATTENDANCE: 638

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