Burgess Hill Town book place in Sussex Senior Cup final after pulsating semi-final with Haywards Heath Town

Burgess Hill Town will face either Bognor Regis Town or Brighton u23s in the Sussex Senior Cup final after they beat Haywards Heath Town 2-1 at Culver Road..

It was a pulsating game between the Mid Sussex rivals and a great advert for the competition. The heavy mist did it's best to disrupt proceedings causing two delays.

But in the end two goals in the opening 10 minutes from the Hillians gave them the victory. They now look forward to a trip to The Amex in May.

Both sides put out strong sides with Jamie Weston returning returning for Heath after spending most of the season at Balcombe in the Mid Sussex League.

Both sides have had a long wait since they had last reached the final of the prestigious competition - Haywards Heath’s last appearance in the final was some 61 years ago, when they triumphed 2-1 over Worthing at The Goldstone Ground in 1956, while the Hillians' last appearance in the final ended in disappointment as they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Hastings Town at the Broadfield stadium in 1998.

Heath were the form side coming into the game but it was the Bostik Premier side - and their fans - who started the brightest and they took a fourth minute lead. After forcing a corner, Aaron Smith-Joseph's deflected cross found Pat Harding at the far post and he smashed home from close range.

Pat Harding opens the scoring. Picture by Chris Neal

Pat Harding opens the scoring. Picture by Chris Neal

There was a short delay after as Josh Spinks caught a high foot from Dan Beck and the Heath defender needed a bandage to give him that Terry Butcher look.

The Hillians had a dream start and on 10 minutes it got even better. Smith-Joseph was involved again as he laid the ball off to Aiden Enver, who teed himself up beautifully and volleyed home from the edge of the area. It was a wonderful strike.

Chances were few and far between for Heath but their first real effort came on 20 minutes when Callum Saunders sensed a repeat of his wonder strike against Three Bridges a couple of weeks back - but this time his free kick missed the target.

It could have - and maybe should have - been 3-0 by the 27th minute with Harding and Tom Cadman missing good chances. And the closest Heath came was on 28 minutes when Alex Laing's crisply-struck free kick cannoned back off the upright.

Heath started to get on top as the half went on and Laing and Andrew Dalhouse both had chances but it finished 2-0 at half-time.

Shaun Saunders replaced Dalhouse with Melford Simpson at half time and he almost had an immediate impact when he laid off to Karly Akehurst, but the midfielder's strike went just wide.

But Heath were soon back in the game when on 52 minutes Saunders scored. Sean Roddy's cross was headed down by Simpson to Akehurst, who laid off to Saunders to slot home. It was a goal they deserved.

Heath were on top but it was the Hillians who should have got the next goal when Beck sent Smith-Joseph through. He round Heyburn but Roddy produced a perfectly-timed tackle to deny the frontman.

It was back to end-to-end and that was no more evident when in the space of 30 seconds Heath could have equalised - and I am not sure how they didn't - after a goalmouth scramble before Cheick Toure forced a corner at the other end.

It was a full blooded affair and it was a surprise it took until the 73rd minute for the referee to get his book out - Spinks getting a yellow for a late challenge on Enver.

Saundes had a great chance to equalise on 78 minutes when Simpson laid off to him, but his clean strike was just too high.

A heavy mist was lurking for most of the game and it decided to descend on the pitch with five minutes to go and the referee decided it was to heavy to carry on and stopped the game.

Luckily it cleared (sort of) enough for the game to carry on. It was unfortunate as it disrupted the flow of what was a pulsating game and the game finished 2-1 to the Hillians.

Heath: Heyburn, Roddy, Weston, Louis, Cooper (c), Spinks, Saunders, Akehurst, Dalhouse (Simpson), Napper, Laing (McCreadie). Subs: McCreadie, Simpson, Finney, Rowe, Gray-Branford.

Hillians: James, Bennett, Cadman, Wilson, Toure, Richmond, Appau (Sargent), Enver, Harding, Beck (c), Smith-Joseph. Subs: Choules, Sargent, Tuck, Short, Ryder.


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