Burgess Hill Town edge out Hastings United in Velocity Trophy

Burgess Hill Town increased their chances of making the Velocity Trophy knockout stages following a narrow 2-1 victory over Hastings United on Tuesday night.

Pat Harding reels away in celebration after netting the winning goal. Picture by Chris Neal
Pat Harding reels away in celebration after netting the winning goal. Picture by Chris Neal

Sam Adams’ deft finish in the first half gave the visitors a deserved half-time lead but Burgess Hill responded with two second-half goals to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive.

United currently top the group 10 table, courtesy of a healthier goal difference, whilst Burgess Hill can claim top spot if they secure at least a point against Chichester City in their final game.

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Throughout the group stages, United manager, Chris Agutter, has given plenty of opportunities to the U’s younger players.

And, having won each of the previous four games, he once again kept faith bringing a number of youngsters into the starting line-up and on the bench, while Burgess Hill, after a 7-0 mauling to Ashford United at the weekend, also made changes to their team.

The game sparked into life on 13 minutes starting with a United back pass which came up short, only a fine tackle by Jake Elliott snuffed out the danger.

A minute later, the Hillians had another chance when striker Pat Harding fired straight at Louis Rogers from distance.

And again, Burgess Hill created a half-chance, this time a superb block by Ryan Worrall on the edge of the area deflected away a powerful shot.

United’s game then clicked into place. Cameron Clark released Charlie Curran who crossed from the by-line before Adams flicked the ball across goal only for Kenny Pogue to poke over the bar at the far post.

Two minutes later, Worrall’s powerful free-kick from 20 yards hit the upright and bounced away.

As the hosts had done, a third chance in as many minutes came along. James Pool, with a clever turn in midfield freed Leon Greig down the right, but his low cross was diverted just wide by a stretching Pogue.

With the pressure building, a goal finally arrived on 36 minutes. Curran cut the ball out in midfield before setting off on a jinking run across the edge of the area.

Curran rode two tackles and slipped a pass through to Adams as United’s captain cleverly waited for the goalkeeper to commit himself before lofting a cool finish into the top corner.

The second-half began in much the same manner as the first with neither side able to retain the ball for any period of time.

After 53 minutes a United corner landed in the back of the net, but the ‘goal’ was disallowed for reasons unknown.

Burgess Hill hauled themselves back into the game on 65 minutes.

A stray pass in midfield was collected by Aaron Smith-Joseph who took two strides toward the area before hitting a low hard shot which skidded off the soaking turf and in for the equaliser.

The Hillians tails were now up, perhaps seeking some redemption for their heavy loss on Saturday, and they turned the game on its head ten minutes later.

A clearance from Louis Rogers carried in the wind to his opposite number who immediately set Burgess Hill on the attack with a swift pass.

Left-back Drew Matthews played a clever ball for Smith-Joseph to gallop onto and his low cross from the by-line was side-footed home by Harding.

United continued to push forward but without any joy. A corner was caught in the swirling wind and landed on top of the crossbar. Then, with five minutes remaining, another United corner fell to Pogue whose shot was blocked, and with Elliott firing over the rebound, the chance of forcing a draw had gone.

Hastings United: Rogers, L Greig, Barlow, Elliott, Curran (Warren 73'), Clark (Hull 62'), Adams, Beale, Pogue, Worrall, Pool. Unused subs: H Greig, Daniels, White.