Harding hat-trick as Burgess Hill beat East Grinstead

Pat Harding, Burgess Hill Town FC. Picture by Steve Robards SUS-150113-082335001
Pat Harding, Burgess Hill Town FC. Picture by Steve Robards SUS-150113-082335001

Burgess Hill Town took a good travelling crowd to East Grinstead for this local fixture which many thought may not go ahead due to the bad weather over the last few days.

The pitch was heavy going but Hill started well and controlled the ball to create the first chance of the game when Rob O’Toole hit a shot from outside the box that Seb Bos saved comfortably.

This was followed on ten minutes when Andy Pearson’s long ball was nodded down by O’Toole to Pat Harding but his well struck shot was deflected for a corner. Against the run of play East Grinstead took the lead when Emiliano Hysi hit a shot from well outside the box and it was deflected by a Hill defender past the helpless Josh James.

This seemed to have an impact on how Hill were playing and they couldn’t seem to keep the ball for any length of time. It gave East Grinstead a lift and they started to create chances, Hysi picked the ball up on the half way line and beat three Hill players before being brought down on the edge of the box luckily for Hill Steve Sergeant couldn’t take advantage of the free kick and it was deflected wide of the Hill goal for a corner and from this John Sinclair went close when his powerful shot went just wide. East Grinstead were lively up front and their pace was troubling Hill at the back but a good chance for Hill to equalise fell on thirty two minutes when Pat Harding found space down the right but he couldn’t find the unmarked O’Toole inside the box.

The home side carried on pressing and got a second goal on thirty four minutes when a deep cross cleared the Hill defence and Kristian Campbell managed to slot the ball home at the far post.

Hill were clearly struggling but as they have shown before this season, they have a never say die attitude and as half time approached they started to create chances and Sam Fisk found Pat Harding inside the box but his flick towards goal went just wide and Rob O’Toole should of done better when presented with a free header from a Callum Saunders corner but on the stroke of half time Harding struck to get Hill back into the game when Saunders put in a low cross and he found space at the far post to tap the ball home.

Ian Chapman and his team were clearly not happy with the way Burgess Hill were playing and they clearly had some work to do during the break, whatever was said did the trick as Hill came out looking much like the side we have seen all season. However the first piece of action saw Josh James have to react quickly to a through ball and he denied Michael Campbell by bravely saving at the attackers feet and from this moment on Hill started to dominate the action.

Callum Saunders found space on fifty one minutes but chose the wrong option to square the ball back when he had a good shooting opportunity and the ball was cleared. He was replaced just a minute later by Dan Perry who started to cause problems straight away with his persistent hassling of the home defence.

Pat Harding had a shot blocked after a Sam Fisk long throw and Dan Pearse looked like he had pulled Hill level when his free kick was heading for the top corner but Bos pulled off a fine save to put the ball out for a corner. Darren Budd was replaced by Lee Harding on sixty five minutes and Hill kept applying the pressure but a rare second half chance fell to the home side on sixty six minutes when Tom O’Connor crossed to Campbell but his header cleared the bar. From a corner on seventy nine minutes Joe Keehan’s header was cleared off the line but only a minute later Lee Harding’s corner found Pat Harding unmarked inside the box and he calmly headed the ball home to draw Hill level this was not the end for Hill and they continued to press for the winner and it came on 83 minutes with the move of the game when after a spell of possession, Keehan crossed to Sam Fisk at the far post and his first time pass found Pat Harding inside the box and again he made no mistake by heading the ball home to give Hill the lead and complete his hat-trick, one more change was made before the end when Keehan was replaced by Graham Martin but no more chances fell to either side and Burgess Hill carry on the unbeaten league record.

Burgess Hill Town: Josh James, Neil Watts, Sam Fisk, Darren Budd (Lee Harding 65), Andy Pearson, Toby Pointing, Dan Pearse, Joe Keehan (Graham Martin 85), Pat Harding, Callum Saunders (Dan Perry 53), Rob O’Toole