Hythe Town 0-1 Burgess Hill Town - We gave it to them on a plate, admits Hythe Town boss Tim Dixon

Saturday 09th August 2014

Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 9th August 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Reachfields Stadium

HYTHE TOWN manager Tim Dixon says patience is needed from supporters’ after his first game in charge ended in a disappointing defeat to Burgess Hill Town.

The Cannons lacked fire-power up front and put in a poor performance in front of their own fans at a sunny Reachfields Stadium.

Ian Chapman’s side fully deserved to get their season off to a successful start but Greg Luer accepted a gift from Hythe Town defender Laurence Harvey to settle the game.

Burgess Hill finished last season’s campaign in sixth-place in the Ryman League Division One South table, two places higher than Scott Porter’s Hythe Town and the Sussex outfit deserved to come away from the Kent coast with three points in the bag to go seventh in the table after 90 minutes of league football.

Dixon admitted he has plenty of work ahead of him to ensure they begin to climb away from the bottom six.

“I think Chappers has got a good squad at Burgess Hill this year so I always knew it was going to be a tough game,” admitted Dixon afterwards.

“We’ve learnt valuable lessons there.  The game was won by a mistake, a lack of concentration on Laurence (Harvey’s) part but that’s gone now. We had a chat about it. It don’t happen again, simple as that. It cost us three points today.

“Over the course of the game I thought we deserved something out of it especially the way we attacked at the end but we need to be a lot better. We’re still learning, we’re still trying to find our feet, that’s obvious today. Players are all getting used to each other.

“We had a lack of quality today all over the pitch. Lots of things we need to work on going into the next game (at Herne Bay on Tuesday night).”

Jack Sullivan (Maidstone United), Lewis Mingle (Tunbridge Wells), Dave Pilcher (Ramsgate) all made their debuts while Harvey and Sam Conlon returned after spells with Whitstable Town and Ashford United respectively.

Burgess Hill Town created their opening chance inside the opening four minutes.

Set-piece taker Will Miles’ hooked the ball down the line for hardworking lone striker Pat Harding, who cut the ball back to Luer and Harding floated over a cross towards the far post where winger Scott Kirkwood came in to glance his header straight at Dan Eason from the corner of the six-yard box.

“They get a lot of goals from set-pieces and you have to defend them well,” said Dixon.

“At the other end you have to make more of your corners and free-kicks and we had plenty ourselves.”

But Hythe Town were denied their first goal of the season inside the opening 11 minutes.

A slick move involving James Morrish, John Walker and Conlon resulted in right-back Sullivan whipping in a cross and the ball was cleared out to Craig Thompson, who cracked a first time volley towards the bottom corner, but visiting keeper Josh James dived low to his left to make a smart block.

“We didn’t create too many chances but we got into a couple of good areas in the first half,” said Dixon.

“I thought it was pretty even-Stevens. The first game of the season you saw both teams trying to suss each other out.”

But that was to be Hythe Town’s best opening during the first half as Burgess Hill Town stamped their authority on the game.

The Hillians’ hit Hythe on the break down the right through Harding, who held the ball up well before cutting the ball back to right-back Neil Watts, who was given time and space to whip in a first time cross towards the far post where Rob O’Toole leapt above Sullivan to loop his header over.

Hythe Town went close to grabbing the lead with their fourth corner of the game.

Josh Burchall swung in a deep corner from the right with his left foot and Craig Cloke came up from the back to plant his header across goal and no one in a red shirt could poke the ball home.

But Burgess Hill Town were gifted the 29th minute winner.

Harvey was outside his penalty area when he rolled his attempted back pass towards Eason, but the goalkeeper came out and his clearance was charged down by Luer, who cut inside to slot his right-footed shot into the empty net from ten-yards.

“I just though the mistake first half happened at the wrong time,” said Dixon.

“Half-an-hour we was alright, pretty even Stevens, silly mistake and we go in with our heads down, which we’ve got to try to get the lads’ lifted.

“Greg Luer, who is a good player, he took his chance but it was given to him on a plate!”

Burgess Hill Town were to be denied a second four minutes before the break when the diving Eason made a low save to his left to ensure that Luer didn’t score when he stroked his right-footed volley towards the bottom near corner from 25-yards.

Dixon said: “That was a great save from Dan, probably one of a few chances, clear-cut chances, they had.

“Our decision making at times especially first half was pretty poor. We gave the ball away too much against a very hardworking Burgess Hill team.”

When asked about his half-time team-talk, Dixon replied: “We changed things around second half. We had to take Dave Pilcher off. He’ll be the first to admit he didn’t have the best of first halves and he had a booking, as well as another late tackle so he forced my hand there really. I had to take him off.

“To be honest with you, it’s hard to go in and have a rant and a rave. It’s easy to have a rant and a rave. You have to take a step back and realise it’s the first game of the season but it’s an important game of the season.” 

Dixon said he had no choice but to substitute Pilcher, who was walking on a tightrope after referee Jack Packman – who was making his Ryman League debut – booked the midfielder just before the break and spoke to him minutes after.

Burgess Hill Town seemed content to be happy to sit on their 1-0 lead as Hythe Town struggled to get in behind them and the home side lacked width and quality to break down a resilient back four.

Burchall floated over a free-kick towards the far post where Cloke leapt to loop his header into James’ gloves from six-yards in the 56th minute, but the visiting keeper had a quiet day.

Eason made his second crucial save of the game to deny Burgess Hill a second on the hour.

Midfielder Scott Kirkwood clipped the ball into the penalty area and O’Toole stuck out his right leg to direct his volley towards goal to force Eason to dive to his right to push the shot around the post.

Dixon said: “Another good save.  He doesn’t do a lot and then all off a sudden he has to be called into action and it was a great tip around the post.  I expect Dan to save those sort of shots.”

Cloke punted a long ball forward from the Hythe defence, which was headed away and Thompson stroked his left-footed volley flashing past the left-hand post from 25-yards.

But Dixon accepted his side were given a life-line when Burgess Hill Town failed to kill off the game as the game edged towards the final 20 minutes.

Harding played the ball into midfielder Darren Budd, whose flicked pass put Harding through on goal, who dragged his right-footed shot across Eason and just past the foot of the far post.

“I thought that was their best chance of the game actually,” admitted Dixon.

“Poor defending from us. Pat Harding’s a good goalscorer. I was surprised he dragged it wide. That would have put us out of the game completely but it didn’t and it allowed us to keep in the game and go chasing it.

“We had to change our formation a little bit. We had a gamble and put another one up front. There were a few bits and pieces. We had a couple of chances, a couple of flick ons, nothing clear cut and it petered out at the end.

“Really most of the last ten minutes we were in their area but nothing with real quality.”

This signalled a big recovery from Hythe Town as they threw bodies forward to grab a point.

Jamie Collado – who came on for Pilcher at the break – played a fine diagonal pass to pick out substitute Phil Stevenson on the left and the former Folkestone Invicta player played the ball inside and Collado cracked a right-footed drive towards goal from 25-yards, which was saved comfortably by James.

Dixon said: “Jamie Collado came on and he did fairly well. He’s a bit of a tiger in midfield, he’s very industrious but we didn’t create enough chances.”

Burgess Hill wasted another chance when Joe Keehan’s ball found substitute Dan Smith, who cut the ball back to Harding and his cross was headed across goal and past the far post by O’Toole.

Hythe Town didn’t deserve anything today, but they almost grabbed a leveller inside the final four minutes.

Mingle clipped the ball straight down the middle and Thompson’s flicked header was almost stabbed home by Conlon.  The striker hooked the ball into James’ gloves as the keeper advanced off his line to make a brave catch.

Sullivan played the ball inside to substitute Jordan Wells, but fellow substitute Stevenson failed to keep his shot down, curling his shot over the bar from just outside the corner of the penalty area.

Hythe’s last chance arrived inside injury time when Cloke pumped a free-kick into the Hillians’ penalty area where Thomson’s glancing header forced James to dive to his right to catch and hold on to the ball.

Dixon added: “There was great work rate from Sam Conlon and Craig Thompson up front.

“We didn’t really trouble the keeper.  We put a few balls in the box and it was too easy for him. That’s not just being under pressure. The type of balls were just into his hands at times. I counted about four or five of them and that’s disappointing because we’ve worked on some set-pieces so obviously we haven’t worked on them hard enough.”

Hythe Town will have to put in a vastly-improved performance when Dixon takes his side to Herne Bay on Tuesday night.

Sam Denly’s side came away from relegated Carshalton Athletic with a goal-less draw, a result that puts them in sixteenth-place after day one.

“We’ve got to make a little bit more happen for us. You’re not given chances on a plate, you’ve got to earn the right to score chances unless you’re playing against us today where we give you something on the plate.  They happen very few and far between mistakes like that. It cost us today but we have to move on. We have to work a way of breaking teams down a little bit more easier.

“It’s not good to start the season with a defeat but you have to take a few positives. It’s not all negative.

“There’s a few things we can work on. We had a chat on the pitch afterwards, just to keep the spirits high really. There’s been slow improvement in the last few games (against) Maidstone, Chatham (in pre-season) and Burgess Hill.

“It’s a slow progression but we really have to get our fingers out pretty sharpish.”

When asked about the home fans’ disappointment of losing at home on opening day, Dixon replied: “If they’re as disappointed as me, they’ll be hurting tonight but I think they know it’s a fresh start down here but it’s not going to be easy.

“I hope they have enough patience with us. It’s not going to be an immediate fix. We lost quite a few players, some of them very experienced.

“We are what we are.  We’ve signed a few, they’ve got to bed in and do the things that we want to do and it takes time.  I just hope (supporters’) have enough patience with us.”

Hythe Town:  Dan Eason, Jack Sullivan, Lewis Mingle, John Walker (Phil Stevenson 65), Craig Cloke, Laurence Harvey, Dave Pilcher (Jamie Collado 46), James Morrish, Craig Thompson, Sam Conlon, Josh Burchall (Jordan Wells 76).
Subs: Lee Pleau, Roddy Hayward

Booked:  Craig Cloke 32, Dave Pilcher 41, Jamie Collado 63, Craig Thompson 66

Burgess Hill Town: Josh James, Neil Watts, Sam Fisk, Darren Budd (Dan Smith 77), Andy Pearson, Will Miles, Scott Kirkwood, Joe Keehan, Pat Harding, Greg Luer, Rob O’Toole.
Subs: Dann Perry, Luc Doherty, Lee Harding, Stuart Tuck

Goal: Greg Luer 29

Booked: Darren Budd 75

Attendance: 235
Referee: Mr Jack Packman (Margate)
Assistants: Mr Karl Sear (Birchington) & Mr Kane Dempster (Hythe)