THREE Sussex teams competed in a tournament at Woodside Road this afternoon as preparations for the new season continued.
Burgess Hill and Horsham both won their 70-minute games against Worthing, while the Hillians and Hornets drew against each other.
In the opening game, Horsham beat Worthing 1-0 before they drew 2-2 with Burgess Hill. The Hillians overcame Worthing 3-2 in the last match on the 3G surface.
Liam Baitup netted the only goal of the first game as a well-organised Horsham side beat Rebels.
Hornets’ Darren Boswell had four efforts at goal in the first half, before Rebels keeper Rikki Banks did well to deny Baitup with his feet when the striker looked to go round him.
Former Rebel Mark Knee, the club’s all-time record appearance holder, who now plays for Horsham, fizzed an effort just wide as the half drew to a close.
Baitup fired over early in the second half, before Horsham went ahead on 45 minutes. Rebels failed to clear a corner and Banks was then beaten to the ball when he looked to punch clear and Baitup pounced to score from close range.
Rebels lost Harry Smith to injury shortly afterwards and played the rest of the match with ten men. Apart from a smart turn and 20-yard shot, which went well wide from centre-half Sibu Muwanga, Worthing did not threaten an equaliser.
Kieron Pamment almost added a second for Horsham late on but his 20-yard free kick was kept out by a flying save from Banks.
Horsham, who went into the tournament with a small squad, fielded a smilar team for the second match with Burgess Hill.
Hillians started well and went ahead after just ten minutes when Chris Smith, who recently joined the club from South Park after netting 34 league goals last season, turned the ball home from close range after a shot deflected into his path.
It was 2-0 just six minutes later when Horsham failed to clear a cross from the right and Dan Perry fired home from six yards.
Horsham got a goal back on 56 minutes when Joe Shelley netted with a stunning strike from 15 yards which gave Hillians keeper Josh Green no chance.
Just three minutes later, Hornets equalised when Shelley’s header was saved by Green but Charlie Farmer was on hand to nod home from close range.
Burgess Hill almost grabbed a late winner but Guy Bolton fired inches wide from 12 yards.
Worthing had a completely different line-up for the final game of the tournament against Burgess Hill, who also fielded a different team.
It took just 90 seconds for Rebels to go ahead as Omar Bugiel’s cross-shot deflected into Will Berry’s path and he slid the ball home from close range.
Burgess Hill equalised on 15 minutes when Darren Budd crossed for Callum Saunders to volley the ball home low at the far post.
Rebels keeper Jack Fagan made a excellent diving save, before Worthing went back ahead on 28 minutes. Berry’s flick from Ryan Morey’s free kick was going in but Jack Barnes made sure and turned the ball home from a couple of yards.
Burgess Hill equalised ten minutes into the second half when a nice passing move was finished off by a shot into the roof of the net from 20 yards.
Worthing almost went ahead twice in quick succession as Hillians keeper Matt Morrish made a fine one-on-one stop to deny trialist Jake Gale, before Gary Elphick’s header from a corner was cleared off the line.
Hillians took the lead with seven minutes to go when a right-wing cross was volleyed home at the back post and that was the way things stayed.
Horsham boss Dominic Di Paola said: “I think we probably had the smallest squad here today because we haven’t got an under-21 team and I didn’t think it was right to bring our under-18 squad as they’re all only 16.
“A fair few of our players did a lot of minutes but I still thought we were relatively dominant in our second game, apart from the last five minutes, which was good.
“We had a funny five minutes in the first half when they scored two goals but we played all right apart from that.
“It was a really good work-out, though, and it’s brought us on quite a bit even though we had a few missing today.”
Rebels joint boss Jon Meeney said: “The biggest thing is a lot of our young players had an opportunity today and they didn’t disgrace themselves.
“In the first game against a good Horsham side, I thought our boys grew and grew as the game went on. We didn’t dominate the game but we always had chances on positive transitions and our organisation got better as the game went on.
“We enjoyed a lot of the ball without really having that cutting edge in the final third but it’s something to work with.
“The second game was a competitive match but all the goals we conceded today were poor but it’s July 18 and we’re gearing up for August 8.
“However, you’ve got to flip it and I thought we were good in possession at times and we got into good areas.
“It was a good fitness work-out and we’ll be better for it in every aspect.”
Rebels will look to finalise their squad in the next couple of days and Meeney said: “We’ll be looking to do that in the next 24 to 48 hours. There’s no time like the present and that way it’s fair to the players.
“The ones that won’t be here we’ll continue to watch from afar but they can go elsewhere and have a good pre-season.”
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