Burgess Hill Town returned to league action with an away fixture at The Belmont Ground after nearly a month of cup matches.
Burgess Hill Town started the match very strongly and held the majority of possession and had several opportunities to go ahead early on. After just two minutes, Pat Harding broke free in the centre of the field. Unable to make a shot he passed the ball over to Greg Luer who’s effort soared just wide of the post. In response to Burgess Hill’s strong start, Whitstable responded on the counter attack and Ian Pulman had a shot on target but was deflected out for a corner by Neil Watts. This corner resulted in a comfortable save in the air for Josh James.
Scott Kirkwood came extremely close on 31 minutes when his header went just wide of the post. This opportunity came just after a passing play of 21 consecutive passes all over the field.
After having so many chances denied, Hill started to mix things up and another great chance came when Sam Fisk put a first-class cross into the box where Greg Luer made contact with the ball but once again the ball didn’t find the net.
On the brink of half time Whitstable found sudden attacking strength and started to challenge Burgess Hill’s defence. Whitstable’s Jake Mackenzie made a strong run up the wing beating Rob O’Toole and Sam Fisk to make a cross but nobody was there to finish.
The score stayed 0-0 until the half time whistle.
Both sides started the second half with a continued sequence of missed chances. On 64 minutes Josh James was forced to make his first serious save of the game when a Whitstable corner turned into a shot that could have very easily snuck into the top left corner.
Ian Chapman made his first change on 74 minutes and brought on Dan Perry for Rob O’Toole. Perry’s fresh legs versus the tiring Whitstable side instantly made an impact and Burgess Hill gained more and more possession. An excellent cross from Neil Watts enabled Dan to have a his first shot of the game. Unfortunately for Burgess Hill, this followed a trend of the afternoon’s efforts and the low, hard shot ran wide of the target.
It was on 86 minutes that Burgess Hill’s breakthrough came. Will Miles beat several Whitstable players in the air to make contact with the ball and headed home the first goal of the game.
The excitement was short lived as two minutes later Whitstable were awarded a penalty after a hand ball in the box. Ian Pulman seemed confident and composed as he sent Josh James the wrong way. This levelled the score and ended a game that was filled with many missed chances for both sides.
Hill retain second position in the Ryman One South league. They now look to next Saturday’s fixture that sees them entertain fellow league contenders Folkestone Invicta at the Green Elephants Stadium for the second round qualifying of the FA Trophy.
Burgess Hill: Josh James, Neil Watts, Sam Fisk, Darren Budd, Andy Pearson, Will Miles, Scott Kirkwood, Spencer Slaughter, Pat Harding, Greg Luer (Lee Harding 87), Rob O’Toole (Dan Perry 74)
Unused Subs: Paul Woods, Stuart Tuck, Keeley Johnson