Blues 1 Burgess Hill Town 1
Blues held in their opening fixture of the New Year
Leiston recorded only their second home draw of the season as a late Pat Harding goal secured a point for the visitors, cancelling out Joe Jefford’s early second half header writes Mark Barber. The home side, without the suspended Danny Cunningham and injured trio of Stuart Boardley, Patrick Brothers and Leon Ottley-Gooch, took a while to settle into the game as the Hillians looked to take the game to their Suffolk hosts. Conditions were predictably difficult after the game got the go ahead following an early morning pitch inspection. Tom Winter had a half chance for the home side on 13 minutes, latching onto a knock down in the area but his half volley was deflected over. Lee Harding was making life difficult for the home defence, twice turning well and having low shots smothered by Ashlee Jones in the home goal. The Hillians could have taken the lead on 33 minutes. First Lee Harding was denied once again by Ashlee Jones, this time from much closer in and then Pat Harding, on as a first half substitute for the injured Sam Gargan, dragged his shot wide when through one on one. As the half drew to a close the visitors, who will have considered themselves unlucky not to be in the lead had another effort go close, Chris Smith’s low shot turned round the post by Ashlee Jones, who was by far the busier keeper. Leiston came out second half and, against the run of play, took the lead. It was centre half Joe Jefford who got the goal, rising to meet a Billy Clark corner and head the home side ahead five minutes into the second half. A trademark goal from the Leiston centre half, who now has seven goals for the season. It would have been easy for the away side to have become despondent after this but they continued to play good passing football looking for a way back into the game. They could have gone further behind on 65 minutes away ‘keeper Josh James kept his side in the game with a good low save from a deflected effort from Kelsey Trotter. As conditions worsened Leiston sat deeper inviting pressure on, although the game had a much higher intensity second half. An equaliser for the away side seemed inevitable and on 78 minutes they were awarded a penalty after Seb Dunbar was adjudged to have committed a foul. Pat Harding, son of the late Chelsea icon Matthew Harding, stepped up but his right footed spot kick was well saved by Ashlee Jones to his left, the Leiston stopper once again outstanding all afternoon. Just as the home fans were thinking their team would hang on for the three points Burgess Hill captain Darren Budd’s shot from outside the area was smartly brought down by Pat Harding who turned and this time made no mistake to fire home a deserved equaliser.
FT - Blues 1 Burgess Hill Town 1
Blues - Jones, Saker, Dunbar, Trotter (Kerslake 69 mins), Jefford, Bullard, Winter, Heath, Clark (Taylor 76 mins), Finch (Clarke 86 mins), Francis. Subs not used - Baker and Rossis.
Burgess Hill Town - James, Miles, Fisk, Budd (Kirkwood 85 min), Pearson, Pointing, Pearse, Gargan (P Harding 33 mins), Rowland (Perry 70 mins), Smith, L Harding. Subs not used - Bolton and Green.
Man of the Match - Ashlee Jones
Attendance - 178