Late equaliser for Hailsham Town in thriller with Billingshurst

Hailsham Town grabbed a late equaliser to share the points with Billingshurst in an enthralling contest at The Beaconsfield.
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The Stringers began well with Craig Norman's cross narrowly over inside the opening minute, before Sam Pout cut inside to fire a shot from distance that was held by Billingshurst's 'keeper Josh Stevens.

The opener would come three minutes later - a foul on Ellis Webster giving Hailsham a free kick down by the corner flag, which was headed back across goal by Rhys Taylor and then glanced home by skipper Joey Pout.

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The visitors would then see an effort from wide on the right held by Wester Young, before Hailsham had three half chances in two minutes, with Charlie Playford hooking a shot wide, before a great pass from Webster found Taylor, who slipped as he went to shoot, before Webster would send a lobbed effort just wide. Midway through the half the visitors did seem to get more into their stride, requiring a flying save from Young on 28 and then a shot over after a partially cleared free kick a couple of minutes later, before, on 42, a quick break and some neat interchanges saw Jacobi Maher raw Billingshurst level.

Man of the Match chosen by Match Sponsor Steve Thomas; Rhys Taylor (Sponsored by Linden Lodge Kennels)Man of the Match chosen by Match Sponsor Steve Thomas; Rhys Taylor (Sponsored by Linden Lodge Kennels)
Man of the Match chosen by Match Sponsor Steve Thomas; Rhys Taylor (Sponsored by Linden Lodge Kennels)

The goal seemed to kickstart the Stringers again, and just before the interval, Hailsham retook the lead after an excellent Taylor cross left Ellis Webster with a simple finish at the far post.

Hailsham would also have an early chance in the second half with Connor Townsend hooking just over on 51, but it was soon level - a crossfield pass teeing up Maher, who rifled home from 25 yards out.

The game now looked as if it could go either way, with Hailsham increasingly frustrated by some hefty challenges from the visitors which earned them a couple of bookings and lengthy delays for injuries on both Taylor and Webster. The visitors then came close after a deep cross with the resulting shot just wide, before Connor Townsend hit the post for Hailsham on 69.

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After being hurt earlier, Webster was replaced on 78 for Tim Johnson, but it was the visitors who would then take the lead two minutes later, with a shot at the second attempt after Young had initially saved well with his legs. Now it would be Hailsham who needed to attack, which they did with a vengeance - sub Johnson hit the crossbar on 85 with Taylor's rebound somehow pushed around the post, before Connor Townsend headed the resulting corner against the woodwork.

Taylor would then see an effort which looked as if it would go into the corner of the net deflected just wide, but on 89, the Stringers finally did draw level, when Ollie Lee, who replaced goalscorer Joey Pout moments earlier, sent in a fine cross. Rhys Taylor's overhead kick was blocked, and Connor Townsend was just unable to get a shot away, before the ball came back to Taylor to slam the ball into the corner.

Hailsham now had their tails up and looked the most likely, with further chances for Lee, who had a header saved and right at the death Connor Townsend, denied by a very brave stop from Stevens.

Hailsham now have a week to get their breath back after an end to end game, with the trip to Midhurst & Easebourne coming on Saturday (3pm). The Under 23's meanwhile make the midweek trip to Saltdean United (Wednesday, 7.30pm).

Stringers; Young, Norman, S Pout, Jarvis, Findon, Playford, Webster (Johnson 78), S Townsend, C Townsend, J Pout (Lee 88), Taylor

Unused; Salvidge, White, Fox

Attendance; 96

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