Burgess Hill Town put in an excellent performance as they dug deep to win at high flying Tonbridge Angels and deny them top spot in the Ryman Premier division.
Ian Chapman warned the Hillians during the week not to get themselves into a relegation scrap but Saturday saw Hill put in a performance worthy of the best in the division.
Chapman said after the game “It was a magnificent performance. We felt a bit aggrieved to be 2-1 down, we had just hit the underside of the bar and they go up the other end and score.
“We dug in today and there was a belief from everyone and it was our best performance of the season against a proper good side.”
With skipper Darren Budd and Toby Pointing both suspended and Phil Johnson away, Chapman reshuffled the Hillians line up and recent signing Sam Gargan came in for his first start of the season.
Hill made a dream start to the match as they took the lead after just two minutes as Gargan netted. Lee Harding found Chris Smith who crossed low to Gargan at the far post to tap home from 4 yards.
Laurence Ball should have equalised for the hosts on eleven minutes but he headed wide from close range following a good delivery from former Hillian Nicky Wheeler.
Eight minutes later the Angels did level the scores as another cross from Wheeler was met by former Brighton & Hove Albion forward Nathan Elder and he powerfully headed home off the underside of the bar.
Pat Harding almost restored Hillians lead but his low shot from eight yards was parried away by Anthony Di Benardo four minutes on from the equaliser.
The entertaining game continued to go from end to end with both sides having chances and a minute before half time, Sam Fisk’s low cross saw Tom Parkinson, another former Hillian, beat Pat Harding to the ball and his clearance struck his own cross bar and went out for a corner.
Angels’ David Fitzpatrick saw a header go straight to Josh James in the Hillians goal just two minutes in.
The hosts suffered a major let off though soon after as Sam Gargan smashed a free kick from the edge of the box against the underside of the bar and it was harsh on the Hillians as the Angels went up the other end and scored minutes later.
Once again it was Elder who scored as he headed home Fitzpatrick’s cross from the right.
Chances continued to fall for both sides. Fitzpatrick broke down the right and Hillians keeper James was quick out and saved well.
With fifteen minutes left on the clock Hill deservedly got their equaliser. Pat Harding headed on to Fisk who was charging down the left and his low cross was turned into the net by home defender Jerome Sobers.
A point would have been an excellent result for the Hillians against Tonbridge who were unbeaten in five but Smith had other ideas with twelve minutes remaining.
Gargan flicked the ball into the path of Smith who superbly lifted the ball over the oncoming keeper and into the back of the net.
Tonbridge looked for an equaliser and a ball into the box from Fitzpatrick pinballed around the area before eventually going wide.
As the hosts pressed the Hillians through their bodies in front of the ball blocking efforts in the last few minutes and held out for an impressive and deserved three points.
Man of the Match: Chris Smith – worked tirelessly through the game and netted the winner
Hillians: Josh James, Will Miles, Sam Fisk, Andy Pearson, Ollie Rowland, Dan Pearse, Joe Keehan, Pat Harding, Lee Harding, Chris Smith, Sam Gargan.
Not used: Scott Kirkwood, Cam Wiltshire, Guy Bolton, Elliot Levy, Stuart Tuck.
Angels: Anthony Di Bernardo, James Folkes, Sam Rents, Tom Parkinson, Jerome Sobers (Charlie Webster 85), Laurence Ball (Tommy Whitnell 28), David Fitzpatrick, Anthony Riviere, Nathan Elder, Luke Blewden, Nicky Wheeler,
Not used: Ellis Brown, Charlie Slocombe.
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