Robinson strikes late to deny Hillians

Lee Harding netted the opener in Burgess Hill's Sussex Senior Cup semi-final last night
Lee Harding netted the opener in Burgess Hill's Sussex Senior Cup semi-final last night

Burgess Hill Town’s hopes of playing at the Amex were dashed as they suffered a Sussex Senior Cup semi-final defeat to Whitehawk.

A Jake Robinson strike eight minutes from time ensured it would be Whitehawk who snatched the victory in the contest at Culver Road.

The Hillians matched their Conference South opponents for large parts of the tie but a late strike proved to be the difference between the sides.

Lee Harding fired Burgess Hill ahead on 16 minutes as he toe poked past Craig Ross in the Whitehawk goal after confusion betweem him and Tom Cadmore, before slotting into an empty net.

The early opening appeared to give Hillians confidence and Ross pulled off a fantastic one-handed stop from Joe Keehan’s header to keep the score at 1-0.

Whitehawk had their first real opportunity a minute later with a snapshot from Jake Robinson which was deflected wide .

The Conference South side nearly levelled on 35 minutes but Tom Cadmore saw his header from a Scott Neilson corner go just wide of the post.

Whitehawk’s pressure was to be rewarded, though, as Lee Hills’ cross was controlled by Danny Mills, before he crashed a right foot drive into the bottom corner.

Mills should have had his second in as many minutes but he headed wide from just four yards out as the sides went into the interval level.

Whitehawk continued in the second period the way they ended the first on the front foot and could have gone ahead on 53 minutes.

Mills’ knock-down fell straight into David Ijaha’s path and he blazed his shot wide of the target.

The Hillians had the ideal opportunity to take the lead for a second time with 17 minutes left as Keehan headed to O’Toole but he fired wide.

Whitehawk introduced Sam Deering midway through the second half and his cross found Mills 12 minutes from time but his header was blocked by Will Miles.

With the game looking to be heading to extra-time it was a former Brighton & Hove Albion man that dashed Burgess Hill’s hopes.

Robinson received the ball with his back to goal before turning and lashing a shot under the body of Josh James to fire Whitehawk in front for the first time.

The Hillians threw numbers forward in the dying embers of the game and they were nearly caught out in the closing stages.

Deering broke away with the ball and teed up Robinson but he dragged his shot from the edge of the area wide as it ended 2-1 to the Conference South side.

Whitehawk will now face Ryman League South outfit Lewes in the Sussex Senior Cup final at the American Express Stadium on May 16.

Burgess Hill return to Ryman League South action on Saturday and will be looking to preserve their unbeaten run when they host Walton Casuals.

BURGESS HILL: James; Slaughter, Fisk, Pearson, Budd; Miles, Kirkwood, Keehan, P.Harding, O’Toole; L.Harding. Subs: Pearse (Budd), Martin, Tuck, Saunders, Bold.