Brendan caps vital win for Beavers
Brendan Kiernan's 52nd minute goal proved the difference between the teams as Hampton extended their lead at the top of the Ryman Premier.
On a bright, pleasant afternoon in mid Sussex, Hampton took what might prove to be a crucial away victory on the back of a hard working display against a dogged Burgess Hill team, which included former Beaver James Richmond on the bench. However, the injury time dismissal of captain Kieran Murphy might turn out to be costly in the last few matches.
The Beavers started well and had three good chances in the first 15 minutes. First Nicke Kabamba hooked a shot just over the bar, then Leon Solomon connected with a sweet half volley from outside the area which Hillians keeper Josh James had to be alert to block before Moussa Diarra had the ball in the net from a Josh Casey cross, but off his hands, which earned him a yellow card.
The opening goal wasn't much longer in coming as the Beavers continued to press and on 20 minutes, it was 1-0 to the visitors. Brendan Kiernan's shot beat James but was blocked on the line by Andy Pearson's hand. The referee dismissed Pearson and Tom Jelley stepped up to stroke the spot kick confidently past James.
Burgess Hill weren't going to let the Beavers have it all their own way and just 3 minutes later, an unmarked Joe Keehan got on the end of a Sam Fisk free kick and headed the ball into the corner of the net across Mark Smith, who was left stranded.
Hillians keeper Josh James was the busier of the keepers as the Beavers kept threatening to run off with the game. Just after the half hour, he had to stretch himself to tip over a rising Jamal Lowe strike; a couple of minutes later, Brendan Kiernan looked to have beaten the young keeper, but the shot agonisingly struck the post and was hacked clear.
Kiernan was having a decent game and just before the interval, he forced another save from James, who had to throw himself at full stretch to get a fingertip to the midfielder's strike.
After the break, Hampton did take the lead, and it was Kiernan who grabbed it. He chased down a deflected shot which looked to be going out; he spun and brought the ball back towards goal, and from an acute angle, slipped the ball under the diving James.
An hour had passed, and the hosts had barely given Mark Smith much to do, but then substitute Chris Smith was played in by Harding, but Smith saved well.
Hampton were now starting to find a Hillians squad making light of the man deficit and forcing the Beavers to defend for sizeable periods of time, but with 20 minutes left, Tom Beere could have wrapped the game up with a smart first time shot that was well saved by James.
It was all hand on deck for the Beavers in the last 5 minutes as the hosts fancied their chances of stealing a point; Callum Overton having a great chance that was blocked in the crowded box.
The gloss was taken off the win deep in injury time; with seconds to go, the Beavers attempted to clear the ball, but it struck the referee, and fell at his feet. In the frustration that followed, the referee stopped the game and showed Kieran Murphy the red card, which without hearing what was said or who said it, seemed harsh.
It might be costly as this could leave the Beavers short of the captain for 4 games in the run-in as the defender had already been dismissed before this season.
After the match, manager Alan Dowson heaped praise on the loyal, noisy travelling support.
"From the first minute to the last, the supporters sang their hearts out, and without that, I don't know if the boys would have been able to hold on. That extra 10% got them to the final whistle and everyone in the dressing room appreciated it a lot. You'd have to go a long way to match that kind of support!"
"The next one is for them."
Burgess Hill Town (1) 1
Joe Keehan 23'
Hampton & Richmond Borough (1) 2
Tom Jelley 20' (p)
Brendan Kiernan 52'
Burgess Hill Town: 1 Josh James, 2 Dan Pearse (Chris Smith 53'), 3 Sam Fisk, 4 Darren Budd (Callum Overton 77'), 5 Andy Pearson, 6 Will Miles, 7 Scott Kirkwood (Cam Wiltshire 81'), 8 Joe Keehan, 9 Pat Harding, 10 James Fraser, 11 Lee Harding
Subs: 12 James Richmond, 14 Chris Smith, 15 Cam Wiltshire, 16 Jack Rowe-Hurst, 17 Callum Overton
Hampton & Richmond Borough: 1 Mark Smith, 2 Tom Jelley, 3 Josh Casey, 4 Kieran Murphy, 5 Moussa Diarra, 6 Leon Solomon, 7 Eddie Hutchinson (Joe Hicks 83'), 8 Tom Beere, 9 Nicke Kabamba, 10 Brendan Kiernan, 11 Jamal Lowe
Subs: 12 Joe Hicks, 14 Jerome Federico, 15 Michael Kamara, 16 Charlie Moone, 17 Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick