Worthing’s 100% start to the season came to an abrupt halt on Bank Holiday Monday, as Burgess Hill Town not so much parked the bus, they arrived in a coach towing a caravan, followed by a fleet of taxis.
It was very much a case of damage limitation for the visitors, after a winless beginning for them, culminating in a 6-1 thrashing by Enfield Town on Saturday, while their hosts had had nine days of inactivity since the hard-earned victory at Harlow.
As August slowly becomes September and league fixtures are supplemented by cup ties, Adam Hinshelwood decided to freshen things up a little bit, by handing starting places to Club Captain, Darren Budd and Jazz Rance. While James Crane and Sam Rents dropped to the bench along with youth team ‘keeper, Aaron Relf and last season’s top scorer for the under-18’s, Hayden Skerry. Ricky Aguiar was given a watching brief and Assistant Manager, Aarran Racine returned at centre-half.
The first real opportunity was carved out by those in red, as Rance’s left wing cross was fired over the bar by Budd, inside the opening ten minutes. Closely followed by Starkey’s ball in from the same side missing the flying Alex Parsons by inches.
Tediousness then set in as the men from Mid-Sussex employed a five-man backline, which often increased to a full eleven behind the ball, with their high-flying hosts being forced to play sideways and backwards in an effort to find a breakthrough.
The half being best summed up by Budd shanking a shot out for a throw-in, for the second week running and Aaron Smith-Joseph seeing his attempt at keeping everyone from nodding off blocked by a, thankfully alert, Alfie Young.
While the excitement got too much for the four of us in the press box, as we comfortably found time to assure Gary that, in fact, Kevin Keelan and not Kevin Keehan or indeed, Keegan had played for Norwich City back in the Seventies.
We were all then temporarily stopped from slipping into a collective coma, by Rance’s left-wing cross almost being turned into his own net at the near post by the experienced Charman. Racine also doing his bit to make sure everyone made it to the interval with at least one eye open, by having his low shot blocked on the edge of the area.
Alex Parsons could only find the netting behind the goal after former Rebel, Josh James parried another Rance cross to him, as the second forty five minutes got underway and, moments later, wasn’t quite able to get a shot off, with Kealy this time the provider.
A poor touch let Ajiboye down, before his ball out to Colbran on the right led to the full-back’s cross almost catching out James, whose fingertips preserved the status quo and the danger was cleared.
Once the shock of goalmouth action dissipated, a Dan Beck free-kick inadvertently led to another close call for the frustrated hosts. As the centre circle set-piece was headed clear by Colbran, Ajiboye got his running spikes on and made it all the way to the Burgess Hill box, only to hammer his attempt wide of the mark.
Jesse Starkey had a go from thirty yards and Kealy came close to adding to his impressive tally so far this campaign from substitute, Crane’s cross but, alas,the game remained goalless.
It was the aforementioned Mr. Crane who created more havoc in The Hillian’s half, when another one of his balls into the box saw both Starkey and Buddy have chances blocked, with a corner the final outcome.
Ajiboye then re-took the mantle of trying to maintain our perfect record by firstly, missing the far post by inches and then turning well, only to find the grateful hands of James.
Not until the final noggins did Worthing come seriously close to defeating a stubborn rearguard action by the away side, with Crane finally forcing a fantastic save out of the man wearing a goalkeeping kit so bright, even the Seagulls were wearing shades.
The last six minutes or so suddenly turned into a roller coaster of emotions, with both teams coming desperately close to stealing three points.
Starkey’s corner resulted in Racine’s goalbound header being deflected behind for another flag-kick; Rance’s cross, not far from the same spot, going wide off Kealy’s bonce and Crane coming closest by rattling the crossbar with the same part of his anatomy- via Racine and another Starkey corner.
The drama wasn’t quite over yet though, as last season’s top scorer, Kieron Pamment was denied by a brave, last-ditch block from Alex Parsons in the final sixty seconds before, with two of the three scheduled minutes of added time played, David Ajiboye found room for a shot that he sent crashing against the crossbar and both teams were forced to settle for a point.