Burgess Hill Town marched into the next round of the FA Cup after defeating Conference South side Sutton United 3-1 at Gander Green Lane as the Hillians made it 13 wins in a row in front of a crowd of 566.
Sutton, famous for their own giant killing win over Coventry City in 1989, fell victim to the in-form Hillians, two divisions below their hosts. Scott Kirkwood, Greg Luer and Dann Perry fired the Hillians into the 4th and final qualifying round for only the third time as well as picking the £7500 prize money cheque.
More than 100 Hill supporters travelled to Sutton and now excitingly await Monday’s draw where they will be hoping the Green and Black Army can progress into the 1st Round Proper for the first time in the Club’s history.
After resting the whole side in Tuesday’s League Cup win over Redhill, Manager Ian Chapman reverted back to same starting XI that defeated Guernsey the Saturday previous.
Hill’s knack for scoring early goals continued as Scott Kirkwood gave the Hill a dream start after just four minutes.
The dangerous Luer saw his shot from the left parried out by United keeper Alan Julian but only to Kirkwood who headed home the rebound with a diving header.
Nick Bignall went close for the hosts with an effort from the edge of the box and at the other end Joe Keehan had a shot saved after he collected the ball in the box.
Both sides continued to have half chances in an even first half, Glen Southam having a shot deflected wide and Hill’s Rob O’Toole forcing Julian into a good save.
Luer shot wide from Sam Fisk’s headed flick on and Bignall had the last chance of the half when he shot straight at Hillians keeper Josh James.
Sutton manager Paul Doswell moved commanding centre half Charlie Clough up front for the second half and Sutton got back on level terms two minutes in when Michael Spillane’s deflected shot went in.
United pressed the Hillians early in the second half looking to take the lead and Hill defender’s Toby Pointing, Andy Pearson, Neil Watts and Sam Fisk stood strong against the big side.
Ricky Wellard had a long range effort go wide and Clough saw his powerful drive from outside the box saved by James low to his left.
Spillane was the next to fire an effort goalwards but his strike from 20 yards out went just over.
Despite all the pressure it was the Hillians though, who took the lead on 74 minutes when Graham Martin was fouled and Luer stepped up to curl home a free kick past Julian into the bottom corner.
With three minutes remaining the tie was over as Luer broke down the left with sub Lee Harding, who moved the ball back to Luer and on to fellow sub Perry who cooly slotted the ball home to send the visiting supporters wild behind the goal.
After the match Chapman said “It was a brilliant result for us. We played well first half and obviously went in front, and then for them to score so quickly in the second half it showed a lot of resolve from our players to get their heads back in the game and eventually get the win”.
Proud Chairman Kevin Newell said “I am absolutely delighted. It was a tremendous performance, a battling performance. They had 80% of possession but we defended superbly and took three good goals on the counter attack”.
He added “I’m very proud of all of the lads and all of the team. All the hard work that goes into bringing a team together and putting them on the pitch in a match like that is really hard work and they deserve it so much. They’ve worked their socks off today, tremendous”.
Hillians: Josh James, Neil Watts, Sam Fisk, Andy Pearson, Toby Pointing, Graham Martin (Chris Breach 85), Joe Keehan, Scott Kirkwood, Rob O’Toole (Lee Harding 60), Greg Luer, Pat Harding (Dann Perry 74).
Not used: Darren Budd, Will Miles, Spencer Slaughter, Matt Morrish.