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Burgess Hill Town 5
Brewer (18', 63', 87'), Lawson (42'), Potter (81')
3 Tonbridge Angels U18
Honarvar (49'), Larkin (59'), Waring (61')
Burgess Hill

Under-18’s long wait continues

Tonbridge Angels long wait, stretching back to 2005, for a place in the FA Youth Cup First Round Proper will continue for another season as they bowed out of the competition at a rain-lashed Burgess Hill Town.

It was a filthy night in west Sussex with rain falling incessantly on the Home Call Carpets Community Stadium.

The Angels started this Third Qualifying Round tie on the front foot with Felix Waring testing the Burgess Hill goalkeeper after just four minutes and Hayden Velvick outpacing the home defence before seeing his goal bound shot cleared from the line. It was to be Velvick’s last act as he sustained an injury in the attack and needed to be substituted after just 11 minutes.

The home side, having survived the visitors early attacks, mounted their own challenge to take control of the game and this culminated in the 18th minute when a cross from the right was headed home from close range by Alex Brewer.

The slickness of the pitch encouraged both sides, but Burgess Hill in particular, to a shoot-on-sight policy that tested both goalkeepers. After 23 minutes, the Burgess Hill keeper made a great save to thwart Waring and header from substitute Cameron Honarvar whilst the Angels’ keeper, Toby Edwards, had to be alert to save from a Brewer header.

Three minutes from the break, an uncharacteristic error from Will Puffette, trying to bring the ball out of defence, saw him robbed which allowed Harry Lawson to stride on before placing past the advancing Edwards.

Matters might even have been worse for the Angels at the break as the home side had a goal disallowed for offside on the stroke of half-time.

Words must have been ringing in the Angels youngsters ears as a completely different attitude prevailed from the outset of the first half. Two quick chances fell to Sam Firman before after three minutes of the half the ball was fed to Honarvar on the right side of the box to cleanly strike into the bottom corner to drag the visitors back into the game.

At this stage, Tonbridge dominated. Waring saw a shot blocked; Ben Martin-Coward had a header deflected away for a corner and, on 57 minutes, Alex Shave, set up by Firman, struck a post.

But, three minutes later, the equaliser arrived when Adam Larkin fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the box following fine work from Waring.

On 62 minutes, Tonbridge got their noses in front when a Reuben Etherington free kick was only partially cleared to the waiting, and trusty feet, of Waring who rifled a shot home from 25 yards.

Sadly for the visitors, their joy was short-lived as a lapse of concentration within a minute allowed Brewer to score from inside the box.

Burgess Hill’s tails were up and Edwards needed to be at his brilliant best to make several saves before, nine minutes from time, a shot from outside of the box by Austin Potter gave the hosts the lead once more.

The Angels pressed hard for a equaliser but their hopes were finally dashed, when Brewer completed his hat-trick with a header from a corner.

A disappointed Dominic Welsh said afterwards: “it was a difficult one to take after clawing it back from two down to lead 3-2 but we made too many mistakes at the back which is so unlike us. It was frustrating that we didn’t do ourselves justice on the night but Burgesss Hill deserved it.”

Published Friday 20th October 2023