Isthmian League

Preview: Burgess Hill Town (A)

Tyres, anyone?

Well, it’s a good thing we’re off to Burgess Hill then! A mere fourteen northerly miles of snaking roads, tumbling trees and South Downs leads you to the friendly door of the elegantly named More Than Tyres Stadium. There, you will witness a game of football, played on a smooth rectangle of grass, between two of Sussex’s best supported sides. The ball doth be kicked. 

Simplistic, therapeutic, poetic. Behind that Hillians goal followers of all ages will grace the stone floor with their noise, with their gleaming pride hoping, just praying, that it isn’t another 1-1. Indeed, times have been tough: goals scored, goals conceded, reds flashed, points dropped. Breathe. The realisation has sunk in: amidst this war of attrition ground will be lost, but in an instant, such gulf can so swiftly be reclaimed. 

Last time out

Right…Chichester, January, coldness. With a hint of the Antarctic floating in the oxygen molecules, Whitehawk and Chichester played out a good old fashioned game of ball and kick under the lights of East Brighton. Ollie Munt sizzling on the hot stove, his early header — a second goal in as many games — appeared to be enough for Ross Standen’s side until, late on, it all went to, err, badness.

Ah, the frustration. Little under ten minutes remained when Lloyd Rowlatt slid the ball in off the underside of the crossbar. It was a contest that should have been sealed by the Hawks long before the finale: bars clipped, certain goals denied, defenders turned. A dangerously slim scoreline was later snipped by Callum Overton’s vision and Rowlatt’s precision as Whitehawk earned another hard-fought point in another 1-1 affair. 

The opposition  

Oooooh, someone’s in-form. Saturday’s hosts dive smoothly into this fixture unbeaten in five, winners of their previous four. They’re good wins, too, with all the defeated placed in ninth or above. Cray Valley, VCD, Hastings, Sittingbourne – all falling to the glorious might of Burgess Hill Town. Up to eight they slither, a mere five points adrift of the closest play-off position. 

As many wins as Whitehawk have losses, their eleven triumphs have arrived through a consistent defence, and an even more stable offense. Goals shared satisfyingly around the team, Lewis Finney and Michael Uwezu’s six lead the race, ahead of Tom Chalaye and Lewis Taylor, who both have five. Threats throughout this difficult puzzle, minor solace is found through Burgess Hill’s lack of rest, journeying the distance to Sittingbourne on this recent Tuesday evening.

Last time out

In a distant past at The Enclosed Ground, the Hawks themselves played host to Jay Lovett’s band of green. Alas, things were a tad drab. Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke and the recently departed Taylor Seymour had the games of their careers with an impenetrable performance in front of their respective nets as a 0-0 scoreline was assured. 

But ignore this, for the time before saw Whitehawk slip two beyond Josh James immediately after the restart to record a convincing victory over their county neighbours back in 2019. Alfie Rogers and Fintan Walsh the scorers on that brisk, pre-Covid November afternoon, recent head-to-heads have been kind to those that reside by the beach…*touches wood*.

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