Burgess Hill Town 0, Hendon 1: Defeat means Hillians have to wait to find out fate

Stuart Tuck, Burgess Hill Town FC SUS-150713-151239001
Stuart Tuck, Burgess Hill Town FC SUS-150713-151239001
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Burgess Hill Town will have to equal or better Needham Market’s result on Saturday to avoid relegation from the Ryman Premier.

A win against Hendon would have seen them secure Ryman Premier safety but a solitary goal in the 82nd minute secured the win and safety for the visitors.

Now the Hillians have to get a result against Tonbridge Angels to give themselves any hope of survival.

They may be safe depending on what happens with the Farnborough situation. But Ian Chapman and his team will want to do it on their own terms with a good performance against Tonbridge.

Straight from kick off Hendon looked more than up for the battle and after just 20 seconds they had their first shot on goal.

Some nice one touch football ended with the ball being laid off to Keagan Cole, but his low drive went wide of Josh James’ goal.

Just three minutes later, Oliver Sprague broke down the left for the visitors and beat two players into the box but his low cross was safely gathered by James.

The Hillians then started to string some passes together and played some nice football. But there was no end product.

Assistant manager Stuart Tuck, 41, started for Burgess Hill and he was leading the home side’s line superbly.

After Hendon replaced midfielder Finbarr Robins with Sam Murphy after just 14 minutes, Chapman’s side had their best chance, but keeper Joe Wright saved well from Curtis Gayler’s rasping drive.

And on 21 minutes the home side should have gone ahead. Luc Doherty broke down the right and made his way into the box before cutting back for Dan Pearse. It looked like he couldn’t miss but he scuffed his shot and the ball trickled wide.

Hendon still looked a danger going forward but Tuck and his troops were easily keeping them at bay.

The Hillians were looking the more likely to score and five minutes before the break they should have been ahead.

A corner found the head of the imperious Tuck. The ball fell to Harding six yards out but his snap shot went over the bar.

You felt at half time one goal would win this game. And it was Hendon who had the first chance to get that goal seven minutes into the second half.

A rare error from Tuck saw him half clear the ball to Carl McCluskey but his first time shot saw James pulled off a superb save.

Chapman brought on youngsters Jack Rowe-Hurst and Callum Overton for Chris Smith and Dan Pearse. Scott Kirkwood then replaced Tuck as the game entered the last 15 minutes.

Mahrez Bettache was involved in everything good Hendon produced. And it was he who produced the bit of magic that set up the goal. He weaved his way into the box and laid the ball across and after a scramble the ball trickled over the line. McCluskey was credited with the goal but the last touch came from a Burgess Hill defender.

It was heart-breaking for Burgess Hill and now they face a tough game against Tonbridge on Saturday as they look to secure safety. It’s already being billed as ‘Survival Saturday’.

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