Cool Hand Luke Earns Blues A Point
Debutant Striker Luke Hornsley marked his debut for the club with a well taken goal writes The Mariner.
Blues halted a run of defeats with this hard earned draw against mid-table Burgess Hill Town in a game that will not live long in the memory. The combination of a blustery wind and firm playing surface and some fussy refereeing prevented any prospect of flowing football.
Jamie Stuart named himself in the starting eleven and gave a first start to recent signing from Hullbridge Sports Luke Hornsley with the team changing to a 3-5-2 formation.
There was significantly little action of note in the opening exchanges and it wasn't until the 11th minute that either goal was threatened when Blues’ Jamie Mascoll crossed low into the box. Hornsley's desperate lunge just failed to make firm contact seeing the ball loop agonisingly wide.
Burgess Hill came close to open the scoring when Izuchukwu latched on to a free kick glancing a header just over Grays’ goal. Then Stuart had a similar opportunity at the other end heading straight into keeper Harris's hands.
From a Burgess Hill corner Blues broke quickly, Stuart found Adiyenka Cole in space. He raced forward and with only Harris to beat he struck the ball straight at the keeper. Hornsley did get the ball in the net after good work by George Pilbeam but he was flagged for offside. Pilbeam then brought a good save from Harris turning his goal bound header over.
Burgess Hill threatened the Blues’ goal but the experience of Stuart at the back ensured their goal remained intact. That was until the stroke of half time when Izuchukwu grabbed the opening goal. It came from a free kick where the ball was played into the home box, Izuchukwu being the quickest to react prodding the ball past Thomas in the third minute of first half stoppage time.
Blues made a tactical change at half time bringing on Tayshan Hayden-Smith at the expense of Pilbeam and reverted back to 4-4-2 giving the Blues more balance with Hayden-Smith adding pace to the midfield.
The change certainly worked when Blues got back on level terms in the 56th minute. Hornsley chased a ball out wide with Burgess Hill defender Fisk favourite to clear the danger but Hornsley had other ideas. He managed to get a touch on the ball and played the ball over Toure before slotting neatly past Harris with his left foot.
Play was becoming stretched at either end and it was Thomas who came to Blues’ rescue making a great block save from Brivio when he looked favourite to score. Hornsley - boosted by his goal - looked eager for the ball, a good run and shot brought a good save from Harris.
Blues could have gone behind for the second time in the game when Cole played the ball back to his keeper with a Burgess Hill attacker in close proximity. Thomas was forced into a hurried kick straight to Fisk who played the ball forward where Stuart was forced to concede a free kick on the edge of the area which fortunately sailed just over.
It was to be the last goalscoring opportunity for both sides and on reflection a draw was probably the right result given the difficult conditions. For Blues the draw brought to an end a dismal run of results and with Luke Hornsley they may have found the answer to their goal scoring problems