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Burgess Hill Town 3 Eastbourne Utd 2
Burgess Hill Town progressed to the Preliminary Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup with a 3-2 home win over Eastbourne United in an exciting and well contested Extra Preliminary round tie.
Both sides had held the lead but, with three minutes left, the tie was locked at two apiece. The outcome was settled with an outrageous drilled effort from beyond the halfway line which flew in, assisted by a strong breeze, to give the hosts a dramatic victory.
Both clubs compete in the South East Counties League, with Eastbourne United, formerly known as Eastbourne Ladies, in the Premier Division whilst Burgess Hill Town are one step below in Division One West. The prize for the winners is a home tie with Saltdean in the Preliminary round.
The opening exchanges were slightly in United's favour, using the wings well to create danger. A cross from the right on 15 minutes drew a good save from Town keeper Casey Dunford and then Shantelle Omar headed over from a corner.
However the hosts were always dangerous and Charlotte Pollendine with a powerful drive drew a fine save from Katie Burr in the United goal on 19 minutes.
Burgess Hill took the lead on 26 minutes with a superb strike from Charley Law, turning and lofting a powerful effort beyond Burr from 25 yards. Eastbourne United levelled on 35 minutes when a Leanne Hawkins free kick from the left deceived the keeper.
United started the second half well with Omar drawing a fine save from Dunford before the follow up shot bounced to safety off the top of the bar. The visitors took the lead with a fine run and low cross from Melissa Ferguson well finished by Nieve Gilman on 61 minutes.
Burgess Hill rallied and were soon level again when Caitlin Garden reacted quickest to a bouncing ball to finish from close range on 67 minutes. A very entertaining match was truly in the balance as both sides pressed for a breakthrough as the contest entered the final stages. Lucy Kisielewska tested Burr with a well struck free kick from 35 yards and it was the Burgess Hill defender, who had a fine match in her main role, who made the breakthrough on 87 minutes.
Kisielewska hit a sweetly struck ball from well within her own half and the trajectory was perfect, taking the ball way beyond the keeper but just below the crossbar for a stunning winner. Hard as the visitors tried, they could not really trouble a resolute Hillians defence in the final minutes.
Burgess Hill Town, with just a starting eleven and no substitutes, owing to the exceptionally early date for this round of the competition, three weeks before the start of league fixtures, achieved a fine win over higher level opposition, who themselves had contributed fully to a very good FA Cup tie.
Burgess Hill Town:
Casey Dunford, Hannah Harvey, Charley Law, Sadie Ashby, Rachael Bowen, Anna Deignan, Caitlin Garden, Penny Gittins, Lucy Kisielewska, Hayley Nash, Charlotte Pollendine.
Katie Burr, Emma Sweetman, Ellis Rabey, Jade Hatcher, Victoria Ecclestone, Leanne Hawkins, Elena South, Ella Sutherland, Melissa Ferguson, Nieve Gilman, Shantelle Omar. Subs: Nia Hall, Jessica Storrie, Paige Westwood, Shaina Mallorca, Sophie Knowlton.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Rachael Bowen takes on Jade Hatcher
(middle) Hayley Nash in a chase for the ball with Melissa Ferguson
(bottom) Charley Law is challenged by Nia Hall
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