Greg Luer’s 48th minute penalty was enough to earn the Hillians a 1-0 victory against Ryman North side Aveley and secure their passage to the next round of the FA Trophy, and in the process extend their winning run in all competitions to fifteen.
With next Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Conference Premier outfit Dartford in mind, Chapman opted to utilize his squad and handed rare starts to forwards Dann Perry and Lee Harding, who have both impressed from the bench this season, and also recalled club captain Darren Budd to the starting line-up after two matches out of the starting eleven.
The opening exchanges were tight, with neither side being too adventurous in their forward forays, but the first real chance of the game fell to Burgess Hill when Perry stabbed over from close range after Luer’s free-kick on the right hand side somehow evaded everybody, apart from the surprised Perry who failed to adjust quick enough.
The Hill front three came into the game more as the half wore on, with Perry and Lee Harding’s pace testing the Aveley defence on a number of occasions, and Luer’s set-pieces in particular proving to be a major weapon for the home side.
Despite being on top for most of the first-half the Hillians went in at interval on level terms, but came out of the traps in the second period, and the deadlock was broken on 48 minutes.
Aveley failed to deal with a Luer corner and amongst the defensive disarray referee Simon Finnigan pointed to the spot after an apparent handball in the six-yard box.
With usual spot-kick taker Joe Keehan on the bench, Luer stepped up and thumped the ball down the centre of the goal as the Aveley stopper James Marrable dived despairingly out of the way.
The goal was Hill’s just rewards for a dominant first 45, but Aveley nearly evened the scoreline three minutes later when centre-half George Essuman headed wide from five yards following a corner.
It was a wake-up call for Chapman’s team and as they searched for a second to kill the game off Perry’s endeavour in chasing down lost causes resulted in a nasty collision with Marrable and the Hill forward’s afternoon ended prematurely.
Pat Harding entered the fray and continued the hard-working precedent set by the injured Perry.
The game began to stretch and Hill looked like doubling their advantage as Toby Pointing had an effort cleared off the line, and a good team move culminating in a Darren Budd and Pat Harding one-two saw the latter have a powerful shot well saved by Marrable.
The Hillians limited the visitors to speculative long-range efforts, whilst still trying to hit their opponents on the break, but as they tired a few sloppy passes and wrong decisions crept into their game midway through the second-half.
Marrable continued to be the busier of the two keepers though and was at full stretch when called into action to stop Sam Fisk’s low drive from twenty-five yards.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic and Pointing did well with a last ditch challenge to deny Aveley substitute Danny Francis getting a shot off in the penalty box, and ten minutes from time Francis again threatened, this time losing his marker and thundering a strike the wrong side of Josh James’ goal.
It was a nervy finale for Ian Chapman and his men, but despite a few anxious moments they kept the Aveley strikers at bay, and as the five minutes of injury time were brought to an end by the full-time whistle it was a well earned win which sees them host Chesham United in the next round of the competition.
Hillians: Josh James, Neil Watts, Sam Fisk, Darren Budd (Joe Keehan 83), Will Miles, Toby Pointing, Graham Martin (Scott Kirkwood 68), Chris Breach, Dann Perry (Pat Harding 57), Greg Luer, Lee Harding.
Not Used: Rob O’Toole & Andy Pearson.