Kingstonian 1, Burgess Hill Town 0: Battling Hillians leave empty handed

Burgess Hill Town FC Manager Ian Chapman 27-02-16. Pic Steve Robards  SR1606727 SUS-160103-120801001
Burgess Hill Town FC Manager Ian Chapman 27-02-16. Pic Steve Robards SR1606727 SUS-160103-120801001
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Tyron Smith’s late goal saw Burgess Hill leave Kingsmeadow empty handed after a valiant display against promotion hopefuls Kingstonian.

Hill produced a hard-working performance in an unusual Sunday fixture, but a lack of attacking intent proved to be their downfall as the hosts kept their play-off chances alive with the narrow win.

The ‘Ks’, as they are known by the locals, dominated in terms of possession throughout, but a combination of solid defending and a superb individual showing from goalkeeper Josh James looked to have earned the visitors a valuable point on their travels until Smith’s winner.

Kingstonian started brightly and when Harold Odametey’s through ball was met by Joe Turner, James was quick off his line to deny his opponent, although Turner was flagged offside anyway.

Next to ask a question of the Hill backline was Pelayo Pico Gomez when he rounded James, and with the goal gaping the Ks forward fired into the side-netting.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic though as both Chris Smith and Pat Harding saw shots well blocked by the home side, however, the best opportunity of the half fell to Dan Bennett whose half-volley looked destined for the top corner but for the fingertips of a full-stretch James.

Shortly after the interval, a long punt forward by Ks keeper Rob Tolfrey was expertly controlled by the impressive Pico Gomez, a touch that allowed him to turn and get a shot off on the angle, but again the figure of Josh James prevented the deadlock from being broken.

Some neat footwork from Lee Harding on the right created a rare Hill opening, and his cross was inches away from finding Scott Kirkwood in the area as Tolfrey bravely punched to safety.

Kingstonian would have been forgiven for thinking it just wasn’t to be when Andre McCollin’s strike crashed against the top of the crossbar and yet another fine save from James denied Bennett from point-blank range, but the pressure eventually told 12 minutes from time.

Will Mile’s clearance was gathered by Smith 25 yards out, who had time to set himself before unleashing an unstoppable strike into the bottom corner beyond James.

The hosts were able to see the game out and at the final whistle a sense of relief echoed around the ground as the result moves the Ks to within two points of the play-off places.

The loss stretches the Hillians’ winless run on the road to eight games in all competitions, but with a 14-point cushion between themselves and Brentwood Town in the final relegation berth, Ian Chapman’s side may have already done enough to ensure Ryman Premier Division football next season.

MOM: Great effort all round, but Josh James made a string of fantastic saves to keep his side in the game and deserved a clean sheet for his performance.

KINGSTONIAN: Tolfrey, Goode, Wells, T.Smith, Page, Inns, Bennett (Beckles 89), Odametey, Pico Gomez (Kempton 81), McCollin (Newman 90), Turner.

UNUSED SUBS: Hogg, Dean.

HILLIANS: James, L.Harding, Fisk, Budd (Doherty 81), Keehan, Miles, Pearse, Kirkwood, P.Harding (Rowe-Hurst 84) C.Smith (Overton 84), Fraser.

UNUSED SUBS: Wiltshire, Tuck.

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