Much-changed Chichester City are no match for Burgess Hill - report and highlights
Goals from Josh Short and Pat Harding in a dramatic two-minute spell in the first half and another late on by substitute Mason Doughty gave Burgess Hill the win they needed against Chichester City to progress from the group stages of the Velocity Trophy to the knockout rounds.
Chichester have a backlog of league fixtures to get through in February as a consequence of their FA Cup exploits and unsurprisingly there were a number of changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Herne Bay last time out.
Connor Kelly came in for Steve Mowthorpe in goal; Ryan Davidson returned after serving a suspension; Matt Axell dropped back to left back; Jamie Horncastle featured in the heart of the defence with Theo Bennetts coming into midfield alongside Rory Biggs and Emmett Dunn; and Gicu Iodarche and Josh Clack posed an attacking threat with George Cody getting a much-deserved start.
Unlike Hill, who had a chance of making it out of the group at the expense of Hastings, Chi faced a dead rubber. But it was the visitors that started with more intensity. Josh Clack whipped in a cross which was turned away smartly with barely sixty seconds on the clock.
Kelly was called into action as Charlie Bennett got a shot off and then flapped at a corner before Biggs almost caught Josh James out at the other end with a dipping shot the hosts’ keeper thought was going over only for it to clip the woodwork.
A super pass from Axell next sent Cody down the left flank. He got past the full-back and found Clack with a telling cross. Clack, No9 for the night but not for the first time this season, pulled off a clever flick but James got a touch and the ball somehow hit both the bar and the post.
As at Herne Bay, Chi couldn’t find a way through, and the home side went ahead on 29 minutes when Aaron Smith-Joseph played Short in. Kelly might have come out to narrow the angles and Short tucked his effort away. The Hillians were two up two minutes later after nice work from Bennett again when the right back picked out Pat Harding for a simple finish.
Chi tried to get back into things but had more defending to do than the hosts. Bennetts did well to head clear a corner; Dunn dealt with another one; Kelly gathered an Andy Briggs set-piece; Smith-Joseph might have done better with Harding’s cross; and a couple of mishaps could have cost Chi.
Burgess Hill spurned an opportunity three minutes after the break before chances came and went for Cody and Biggs. A sharp burst of space then got Cody away once more. He passed to Clack who dallied in the box when he could have pulled the trigger. Kevin Moreno-Gomez and Jordi Ndozid combined effectively but Kelly held on to the final attempt.
Moments later Cody took the ball down brilliantly on his chest only to shoot straight at James after a great run by Clack. Kelly then made the save of the match to deny Bennett. Harding dragged an effort wide in the 73rd minute and Drew Matthews missed a free header.
Another mistake at the back gifted Hill a third with five minutes to go which Doughty gratefully accepted. There was still time for three more chances. Smith-Joseph skewed one effort and lifted a second onto the roof of the net and Dunn could have grabbed City a consolation.
Chi play nine games now in 29 days and the club have attracted support on Twitter in response to Gary Lineker’s provocative comments about the FA Cup.
A busy month of February fixtures begins this Saturday when Haywards Heath travel to Oaklands Park (3pm)
Chichester: Kelly, Davidson, Axell, Bennetts, Horncastle, Heath, Iordache, Biggs, Clack, Dunn, George Cody. Subs – Walster, Rowlett, Pashley.