Isthmian League

Preview | Burgess Hill Town (H)

What’s that coming over the hill? No, not the hit 2006 track by The Automatic, rather a collection of people clad in green and black wondering over from a nearby settlement. Didn’t you know? It’s the A23 derby! One of many, but one of importance. Old foes travelling to the seaside to play beneath the bright bulbs of The Enclosed Ground. It’s on.

How else would you spend an Autumnal Tuesday evening? Well, there’s probably a few other things to do, but for the zealots that stride to Whitehawk this is peak entertainment: one side unbeaten, the other languishing as their momentum starts to switch. It’s the Hawks vs the Hillians, and here’s praying to the football Gods above it’s tastier than last year’s home affair.

Last time out

What spirit, eh. In the growing catalogue of Whitehawk results this will simply read a Hawks defeat. That wouldn’t be wrong, but dig deep between the lines and discover character akin to a Brendan Rodgers side.

Behind until the very last minute of stoppage time, a fine Markus Marku equaliser – his first in a red shirt – was cancelled out by a solemn defeat on penalties at the home of Isthmian Premier League side Folkestone Invicta.

Division above, but this was not prevalent as the Hawks thumped and thwacked the hosts’ door, only to bow out of the FA Trophy in the cruellest way possible. Shaun Saunders was delighted with the performance – and rightly so – as his squad rest and prepare for a return to league football tonight.

The visitors

It’s a table that lies, we think. At initial glance you will see Burgess Hill near the bottom of the well, clinging on to avoid the drop zone. It’s early days, and this will change (at some point) as Jay Lovett’s side start to show signs of life.

In 18th position with four points from their six games, The Hillians have recorded back-to-back victories for the first time this season after overcoming East Grinstead in the league, followed by FA Trophy progression through their weekend win against Hanworth Villa.

With a cup heavy schedule the momentum to thrive in the division has been an issue for many clubs, but as league takes priority Lovett will be hoping the acclaimed boots of Dan Perry and Jeff Duah-Kessie will start firing. And Connor Tighe returns to the field where he played so much as he goes in search of ending his former club’s unbeaten record.

Previous encounters

Given the particularly close proximity between the sides, it’s no surprise that we have met on quite a few occasions. No time to rattle through the encyclopaedic minds, we’re all about modernness here in Whitehawk.

Last year was not the year of the Hawk: a frenetic 0-0 that witnessed a goalkeeping masterclass from Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke and Taylor Seymour, while the return fixture had a similarly cagey feel to it, even if a lone Martyn Box header was enough to claim all three points for Burgess Hill in the chilly return fixture.

Whitehawk’s last victory on home soil against The Hillians arrived in November 2019, when a quick-fire double from Alfie Rogers and Fintan Walsh earned Jude Macdonald’s side a third straight home win. Same again? Patience, we shall find out soon enough…

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