Ian Chapman started nine of last year’s Ryman South winning side, with most of the newcomers having to settle for a place in the dugout.
The game had a pre-season feel to it, but both teams defended resolutely, with chances few and far between. Toby Pointing earned himself the man of the match award with a number of incisive tackles, and did well ten minutes in with a great block to deny Northampton’s Nicky Adams’ goal bound shot reaching Josh James.
James’ afternoon between the sticks didn’t last long as he was replaced by Josh Green midway through the first-half as a precautionary measure due to a slight hamstring worry.
Adams remained the Cobblers biggest threat throughout the first-half, and put in a number of dangerous crosses that the Northampton strikers failed to convert.
Hillians new signing Tommy Fraser impressed in the middle with a couple of good touches, and he linked well with Dann Perry, whose endeavor asked a lot of questions of Northampton’s centre-backs.
Perry managed to hold the ball up well against his towering opponents, and just before the half-time whistle he finally beat the offside trap, but his tame effort failed to trouble Alex Smith in the Northampton goal. Northampton manager Chris Wilder rung the changes at the interval, whereas Chapman opted to stick with his first-half eleven.
The visitors continued to press in search of a goal, but Hill stood firm, with Andy Pearson and Pointing continuing to stifle the Northampton attack.
Ten minutes into the second-half Chapman altered the shape from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, and gave new signings Phil Johnson and Chris Smith an opportunity to impress up top.
Both followed the example set by the substituted Perry with tireless running and an abundance of energy as Burgess Hill kept pace with their higher-level opposition.
Northampton midfielder John-Joe O’Toole should have done better with a header from close range which he put wide, but the Hillians were able secure an impressive draw thanks to their disciplined performance.
Not many teams last season saw more of the ball in games than the Hill, but this afternoon, Chapman’s team were able to show another side to their game, a dogged and determined side, which bodes well for the forthcoming season.
The hosts were impressive from back to front, with Green doing really well after deputizing for the injured James, and the entire defensive unit also proving very solid.
Pointing epitomized the ethos of the Hillians on the day and rightly walked away with the man of the match award.
Burgess Hill: James, Doherty, Fisk, Budd, Pearson, Pointing, P.Harding, Keehan, Perry, Fraser, L.Harding, Martin, Saunders, Branford, Pearse, Donaldson, Johnson, C. Smith, Mallins, Green.
Northampton: A.Smith, Lelan, Buchanan, Taylor, Diamond, McDonald, Adams, Byrom, Richards, Toney, Potter, Cresswell, Clifton, Warburton, O’Toole, Hoskins, Hackett, D’Ath, Clarke.
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