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Hillians take the honours
 Women's Football News 8 Sep 2014
 
Hillians take the honours - 8 Sep 2014 - Women's Football NewsBurgess Hill Town 4 Abbey Rangers 2
Burgess Hill Town progressed to the First Qualifying Round of the FA Women's Cup with a 4-2 victory over Abbey Rangers. 
 
An away tie with Eastbourne Town is their reward for a hard fought victory over the Surrey-based visitors, for whom it was the first match of the season. In a very entertaining and fluctuating contest, Burgess Hill looked comfortable just after the break having secured a 3-1 lead but Abbey Rangers roared back into the contest with a second goal and went agonisingly close to equalising before a hat-trick goal for Kelley Wheatley, her second triple in successive weeks, in the fifth minute of added time, sealed the Hillians' victory.
 
Burgess Hill, who were previously Haywards Heath Town with a long and proud history in women's football, started the match in fine style, having a shot just wide inside ten seconds and going very close through Kerry Tagg in the second minute. Abbey Rangers responded with a shot from Steph Sale, then took the lead in the eight minute. A clearance from keeper Holly Nunn sent Amber Walker clear through the middle and she finished calmly past Tracey Smith in the home goal.
 
Burgess Hill simply resumed their bombardment of the Abbey goal. Chloe Farrell and Sadie Ashby went close, Tagg had a shot well saved by Nunn and Shannon McFadden was just wide after a clever headed lay off by Charlotte Pollendine. The equaliser on 26 minutes was a beauty, Ashby picking up the ball 30 yards out before measuring a lofted drive beyond Nunn. Wheatley had the next two efforts, firing over then seeing another effort athletically tipped over by Nunn.
 
Meanwhile, Abbey Rangers had been showing their own threat, chiefly centred around the pace and trickery of the impressive Walker. On three occasions she was sent clear of the defence only to be denied at the last by a combination of good defensive cover and the advancing Smith in goal.
 
However at this stage it was the Hillians who looked the more likely scorers and on 42 minutes, Wheatley notched her first from close range after breaking clear on the left. Even then Walker nearly levelled with a shot on the run which clipped Smith's bar.
 
There was a dramatic start to the second half as Walker burst clear on the left and was inches away from equalising as her cross shot drifted wide, Within two minutes the home team had extended their lead through Wheatley when a through ball was missed which left her clear to finish high past Nunn.
 
For a while, Burgess Hill threatened to add more. Nunn, having a fine match, produced an excellent tip over when a Tagg corner was met on the volley from six yards out.
 
Just when it seemed that Burgess Hill were well in control, Abbey Rangers pulled a goal back on 56 minutes. Hannah Johnson's free kick from deep in her own half sent Sale clear of the defence and she finished coolly past Smith. Tagg had another powerful effort beaten away by Nunn on the hour but the visitors stepped up their game the longer it went on. Walker was a constant threat and received some very good service from an increasingly dominant midfield. Smith made a superb instinctive save with her feet after good work by Sale on the right left Walker free five yards out, then the same player was very unlucky with a cross shot which Smith tipped onto the inside of the post before the ball rolled along the goal line.
 
By the last ten minutes the game was end to end, Sale going very close to equalising with a shot just wide whilst Nunn made a fine reaction save to turn away a deflected shot for a corner.
 
A series of injuries had broken up the second half and it was deep into added time when Burgess Hill settled the tie. The home team had worked a number of good positions close to the Abbey goal and from one, Wheatley completed a hat-trick with a powerful finish from ten yards to finally kill off Abbey Rangers' fight back.
 
Abbey Rangers were champions of the Surrey County League last season and have moved up into the South East Counties Division One West, one division below their opponents on the day. Missing key players and with only one substitute, used early on, Abbey impressed with their determined comeback. Burgess Hill looked a strong team going forward, with Wheatley a real threat and skipper Ashby running midfield.
 
Both teams provided a lively and well contested match in the best traditions of the competition with a number of outstanding individual performances on both sides. 
 
Burgess Hill Town: Tracey Smith, Danni Bishop, Ellie Card, Sharlotte Blyth, Mica Saunders, Shannon McFadden, Sadie Ashby, Keeley Wheatley, Charlotte Pollendine, Kerry Tagg, Chloe Farrell. Sub: Rhiannon Morley.

Abbey Rangers: Holly Nunn, Rachel Stevens, Lydia Jones, Amber Othen, Steph Sale, Alice Latimer, Kerrie Parsons, Tamsin Lansdowne, Amber Walker, Alice Hale, Hannah Johnson. Sub: Jenni Beckett.

(Report by Patrick Higgins)

Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:

(top) Danni Bishop holds off a challenge from Amber Walker
(middle) Ellie Card makes a tackle on Kerrie Parsons
(bottom) Amber Walker fires in a shot with Danni Bishop closing in

 
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