Burgess Hill Town manager Ian Chapman labelled Joe Keehan’s winner against Canvey Island an “unbelievable strike”.
The boss was full of praise after the midfielder found the top corner from 30 yards out in a scintillating 3-2 victory on Saturday.
The visitors drew first blood through Harrison Chatting but Hill quickly responded when Chris Smith was fouled and Keehan tucked in the resulting penalty. The second half saw goals from Smith and Keehan’s goal of the season contender. Canvey grabbed a consolation in the final minute when Glenn Poole poked home a scrappy goal.
Hill welcomed back Darren Budd and Toby Pointing after suspension, with the latter being handed an immediate return to the starting line-up.
The match got underway with bitter wind affecting several goal kicks for both sides, before Canvey conjured up the first chance of the afternoon when Harrison Chatting broke forward but saw his shot palmed wide by Josh James. The subsequent corner fell to Tyrell Miller-Rodney, who hammered wide.
The Gulls continued to apply pressure on the Hillians’ defence, which eventually paid off when Jay Curran burst down the right wing and lofted the ball to find Chatting, who finished across the face of the goal to give the Essex side a deserved lead.
Hill fought back though, and in the 26th minute Chris Smith danced through to the box before being tripped by Richard Halle. Up stepped Joe Keehan, who took a breath, sent Conor Gough diving to his left, and buried it into the opposite corner.
The home side so nearly found a second just minutes later when the two Harding’s combined; Pat crossing for Lee, whose soft header clipped the foot of the post before half-time.
As so often the case this season, the Hillians came out of the break with a sense of renewed energy and motivation, shown undeniably four minutes in as Smith pounced on a mistake from a Canvey defender and skipped down the by-line prior to sneaking the ball under the goalkeeper for his 12th goal this season.
The Hillians maintained force on the Canvey goal, with several chances coming in the form of Pat Harding and Chris Smith, but it was Joe Keehan who stole the show just past the hour-mark. Smith sprinted down the left flank and played it back to Sam Gargan. The new signing then found Lee Harding, who laid it off into the path of Keehan. One touch was all he needed to set himself before superbly connecting his laces with the bottom of the ball and watching it fly into the top corner, securing his brace and surely the club’s December Goal of the Month “Unless someone scores an overhead kick” (his words).
Canvey grabbed a last minute consolation after Jack Simmons cross deep into the box lead to a goal mouth scramble and Glenn Poole stabbed home to make the scoreline seem a lot more even than the game itself.
The result pushes the Hillians up to 10th in the table. Next up for them is another home fixture against Merstham next Saturday.
MOTM: Joe Keehan – Worked tirelessly. Calmly converted penalty and wonderful long-range strike.
HILLIANS: Josh James, Will Miles, Sam Fisk, Dan Pearse, Andy Pearson, Toby Pointing, Lee Harding, Joe Keehan, Sam Gargan, Chris Smith, Pat Harding.
Not used: Darren Budd, Scott Kirkwood, Cam Wiltshire, Guy Bolton, Elliot Levy.
CANVEY ISLAND: Conor Gough, Jake Pitty, Ashley Dumas, Tyrell Miller-Rodney (Omar Lawson 76), Richard Halle, Steve Sheehan, Jay Curran (Ozzy Adeniji 76), Glenn Poole, Harrison Chatting (Jack Simmons 68), Martin Tuohy, Tony Stokes.
Not used: Lawrence Yiga, Marlon Agyakwa
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