Burgess Hill Town gained their first point of the season in the Bostik Premier Division in an entertaining game at Harlow Town on Tuesday evening.
After a cautious first 20 minutes where both sides looked to keep things tight – especially Harlow Town who’d found themselves 4-0 down against Whitehawk after just 39 minutes at the weekend - it was Burgess Hill who sprung to life first through the busy Ben Pope.
He dispossessed Syrus Gordon inside the Harlow area and laid the ball off to Connor Tighe who hit a stunning side-footed shot from 25 yards out into the top right corner, giving Josh Bexon no chance in the Harlow goal.
The goal brought Harlow out of their shell and they began to look dangerous down the flanks, especially through Jason Raad on the left who managed to find his right wing counterpart on a number of occasions, but Charles Claydon failed to hit the back of the net.
The visitors could have doubled their lead in the 32nd minute when a great ball in by Tighe went across the six yard box, but youngster Charlie Bennett put his unchallenged diving header wide of the far post.
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Harlow put two great balls into the box themselves in the final 10 minutes of the fist half but headers from JJ Da Cruz and Fabion Simms both failed to trouble Josh James in the Hillians’ goal.
The first good chance of the second half fell to Harlow’s Jason Raad, who was found unmarked in the area, but his right-foot swinger saw the ball sail high over the bar when he should have done so much better.
Opportunities for Harlow to equalise became more frequent - albeit from distance – but they were actually starting to force Josh James into making some saves.
The goal for the home side finally came in the 69th minute when Raad’s corner from the left was eventually lofted back across goal by Andre McCollin - following a scramble - which Da Cruz gratefully stabbed home.
Harlow continued knocking at the door, looking for a second, but it wasn’t completely backs to the wall stuff for Burgess Hill, who themselves were still managing to get the ball up field into the danger areas.
Charman and Elphick had to combine for a double clearance off the line to deny Syrus Gordon in the 87th minute in what proved to be Harlow’s last real chance of the game.
There was then more drama right at the death in the fifth minute of time added-on when Gary Charman hit a long ball from the halfway line into the box which was headed by Elphick to substitute Kieron Pamment whose shot was blocked by the outstretched hand of Da Cruz on the edge of the six yard box. The Hillians’ players screamed for a penalty but the referee merely put the whistle to his mouth to call time on this pulsating contest.
On the balance of play, Ian Chapman’s men will come away from the Harlow Arena satisfied with a point while the home side will rue a number of missed opportunities; however the Hillians being denied a clear penalty with the last kick of the game will leave fans thinking ‘What if?’.
Star Men: It was a good team performance from the Hillians, but special mention has to go to Gary Charman, Ibrahim Diallo and captain Gary Elphick for their defensive work which was key to ensuring that a first point was coming back with the team to Mid Sussex.