Burgess Hill crashed out of the Robert Dyas League Cup after Phil Page’s hatrick saw Dorking Wanderers produce a second-half comeback to progress to the next round of the competition.
Wanderers, who ply their trade in the Ryman South, are the second lower-league team this season to have beaten the Hillians after Horsham YMCA’s FA Cup scalp last month.
Ian Chapman did take a threadbare squad to the Westhumble Community Ground though, with Andy Pearson and Phil Johnson away on holiday, and Josh James, Sam Fisk, Dan Pearse, Callum Saunders and Cam Wiltshire all unavailable due to either injury or illness.
Captain Darren Budd and Will Miles made the bench, but both were carrying knocks and were never likely to be risked ahead of Saturday’s league encounter with Leatherhead.
The game itself couldn’t have started better for Hill, and in the second minute Joe Keehan’s volley found its way to Dan Perry, who expertly brought the ball down on his chest and finished to register his third goal of the season.
Five minutes later and Chris Smith had the chance to double the lead, but Wanderers goalkeeper Slavomir Huk saved his effort after a neat one-two with Perry.
Josh Green, making his competitive first-team debut for the Hillians was at full stretch midway through the first-half to tip Chris Boulter’s header over the bar as Dorking searched for a leveller.
The evergreen Paul Armstrong made a rare appearance for the first-team amidst the availability crisis and almost got on the scoresheet on the half-hour mark, but his shot trickled wide of Huk’s post.
Dorking began to come into the game as half-time approached, and after the break came out all guns blazing, with forward Tom Tolfrey’s shot early in the second period a sign of things to come.
Armstrong was at the heart of most of the Hillians attacking forays and was denied by a good save from Huk ten minutes into the second-half following a pass from Lee Harding.
Dorking were looking more and more likely to get a goal as the game went on, and it was no surprise when they finally equalised in the 72nd minute.
Page danced across the edge of the box from right to left before unleashing an unstoppable drive from 20 yards into the bottom corner of Green’s goal.
It went from bad to worse six minutes later when Tolfrey’s burst into the penalty area was cut short by a foul from Toby Pointing, leaving the referee with no alternative other than to point to the spot.
Page stepped up and coolly dispatched the penalty for his second of the game to put his side ahead for the first time in the match.
As the clock ticked down, the Hillians ran out of ideas, and when Page completed his hatrick with the last kick of the game from a free-kick 25 yards out, it pretty much summed up the night for Burgess Hill.
MOM: Paul Armstrong – Was always positive on the ball and one of the few players to come away from the game with much credit.
DORKING: Huk, Gilbert, Willis, Dyett, Boulter, Familton (Francis-Legg 57), Cousins (Thompson 58), Briggs, Page, Tolfrey, Findlay.
UNUSED SUBS: Beckles, Cannon, Hackett
HILLIANS: Green, Doherty, Rowland, Armstrong (P.Harding 72), Pointing, Tuck, Kirkwood (Hosier 84), Keehan, Perry (Bolton 59), Smith, L.Harding.
UNUSED SUBS: Budd, Miles.