Burgess Hill Town’s draw away at Conference side Aldershot Town in the FA Trophy was what many people would describe as a ‘tall order’.
To bring anything home Burgess Hill would have to overcome Aldershot Town who are three leagues ahead of Burgess Hill Town and sit in 16th position in the Vanarama Conference.
While Aldershot seemed the clear favourites, Burgess Hill Town’s superb league and cup form this season meant that player and management confidence was at a record high. If ever there was a time for the ultimate giant killing, it was now.
From the very beginning the crowd of Hillians fans that had made the trip made themselves heard and spurred on the underdogs. The match started evenly and neither side looked particularly dominant. 15 minutes into the match, Aldershot’s strength started to show and they created the first real chance of the game when Dan Holman managed to take a shot. The ball however, was no threat as Andy Pearson cleared the ball from the box. After a quick furry of goal scoring opportunities from Aldershot, Burgess Hill Town stepped up the pace and started to take control of the game. Half an hour into the match Neil Watts made a sharp turn, defeating two Aldershot strikers to cross the ball in to Dan Perry who was ready to knock the ball towards Spencer Slaughter. Unfortunately for Burgess Hill Town, Slaughter saw his resulting shot head just wide of the post. Just three minutes later Burgess Hill Town created another great chance and from a corner Spencer Slaughter made contact with the ball that flew in the direction of Phil Smith in the Aldershot goal. Looking slightly shocked at Burgess Hill’s sudden dominance, he pushed the ball back into the box where Dan Perry took full advantage of this break and smashed the ball into the back of the net. The away fans exploded in the stand and applauded goal scorer Perry as he celebrated in full view of the stand, quickly followed by the rest of the jubilant Hillians squad.
Burgess Hill Town remained the dominant team for the rest of the half and came so close to doubling their lead just a minute before the break. A Greg Luer cross had Dan Perry running into the box to connect with the ball but Perry was just inches away from securing his second goal of the afternoon and the ball rolled out of play.
At the half Aldershot Town made a change to their line up to put more pressure on Greg Luer who was in a different league when it came to pace down the wing. For a while this seemed to work as on 58 minutes Dan Holman made a swift run down the left wing to challenge the Burgess Hill goalkeeper. Josh James did not seem troubled and simply pushed the ball out for Spencer Slaughter to clear.
On 63 minutes Josh James had to work to keep his clean sheet when Manny Oyeleke’s free kick required a smart save low on the right hand side of the goal.
Ian Chapman chose to replace Rob O’Toole and Dan Perry with Lee Harding and Pat Harding to freshen up the squad and keep up the strong attacking display. The two new additions quickly settled into the game and Lee Harding was close to netting from the rebound of a Greg Luer shot however Aldershot closed down the attack and sent the ball out for a corner. Aldershot Town continued to safely discard any Burgess Hill Town chances as Lee Harding and Greg Luer had further opportunities to add to the score. The fourth official indicated that there would be 4 minutes of extra time which displeased the away fans as they could taste the victory. On the 93rd minute the worst fears of every Hillians supporter were nearly realised when Aldershot had their best chance of the game. A powerful shot was sent soaring towards the Burgess Hill Town goal line and out of the reach of keeper Josh James. Thankfully for Burgess Hill, Neil Watts was positioned perfectly to heroically take full impact of the blast and prevent Aldershot from equalising. This led to Neil Watts leaving the field due to injury and Graham Martin took his place for the final minutes.
After what seemed like forever, the referee blew his whistle indicating full time and Burgess Hill completed their triumphant win over Conference side Aldershot Town.
This is the biggest win in the club’s history and a day that every Burgess Hill Town supporter, player and member of staff will remember for a long time to come.
Burgess Hill Town’s Man of the Match was awarded to Andy Pearson for his strength in the Burgess Hill Town defence at critical moments.
The draw for the Second Round Proper of the FA Trophy is Monday afternoon.
Burgess Hill Town: Josh James, Neil Watts (Graham Martin 94), Sam Fisk, Darren Budd, Andy Pearson, Will Miles, Spencer Slaughter, Joe Keehan, Dan Perry (Pat Harding 73), Greg Luer, Rob O’Toole (Lee Harding 65)
Unused Subs: Callum Saunders, Matt Morrish