Burgess Hill Town brought a point back to Sussex after a 1-1 draw with Leiston in Suffolk.
It was the least the Hillians deserved as they put in a fine performance after making the 144.8 mile trek to Leiston, the furthest the Hillians have to travel in the Ryman Premier Division.
The pitch was heavy after all the rain in recent weeks and the wind and the rain drove down throughout the afternoon, but the Hillians played some good football in the first ever meeting between the two sides.
Leiston are enjoying a good season and currently sit in 5th place, the final playoff position, but it was the Hillians who impressed early on.
After just two minutes skipper Darren Budd pulled the ball back from the left for Sam Fisk whose shot went close for an early lead.
At the other end Gareth Heath saw his volley deflected wide of Josh James’ goal and minutes later Lee Harding called home keeper Ashlee Joines into action with a low save to his right.
Hill continued to hold possession and Lee Harding’s strong run resulted in Jones saving his shot.
Soon after Hill were dealt a blow when striker Sam Gargan was forced off with an injury in the 33rd minute however Hill’s attacking strength in depth was shown with the experienced Pat Harding replacing him.
He was quickly in the action and nearly scored with his first touch just a minute after coming on as he linked up with Chris Smith before firing narrowly wide.
Hill’s top scorer Smith almost broke the deadlock before half time as his shot was turned around the post by Jones and the half-finished goalless although the Hillians looked more likely and deserved to be ahead.
Just a minute into the second half a poor clearance from Jones was picked up by Smith who found Pat Harding who shot over.
It was the hosts though who took the lead as a corner was powerfully headed home by Joe Jefford five minutes in.
Hillians continued to press now in search of an equaliser. The hard working Dan Pearse shot just wide from 20 yards whilst a rare effort from the hosts saw James save a shot by Kelsey Trotter.
Smith saw a free kick saved but the Hillians got a real let off with 19 minutes remaining as Billy Clark went through on goal but he shot wide.
A goal there would have killed off the Hillians but they continued to go for an equaliser, Pease’s free kick hit the wall and fell to Smith who shot over from close range and straight after Hill were given the chance to go level when Smith was tripped in the box and the referee made no hesitation in pointing to the spot after 76 minutes.
It looked like it wasn’t going to be Hill’s day as Jones saved Pat Harding’s penalty but with four minutes remaining Harding made up for the miss by hitting home the equaliser.
Budd’s shot was deflected into the path of Harding who fired the ball home much to the delight of the visiting supporters and send Hill on the long route back to Sussex with a well-deserved point.
Man of the Match: Dan Pearse – solid battling performance in midfield.
Hillians: Josh James, Will Miles, Sam Fisk, Andy Pearson, Toby Pointing, Dan Pearse, Darren Budd (Scott Kirkwood 85), Ollie Rowland (Dan Perry 70), Lee Harding, Chris Smith, Sam Gargan (Pat Harding 33).
Not used: Guy Bolton, Josh Green.
Leiston: Ashlee Jones, Blake Saker, Seb Dunbar, Kelsey Trotter (Toby Kerslake 69), Joe Jefford, Tom Bullard, Tom Winter, Gareth Heath, Billy Clark (Jake Taylor 75), Christy Finch (Lloyd Clarke 86), Joe Francis.
Not used: Jack Baker, Alex Rossis.
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