Angels trumpet final 4th place at Green Elephants Stadium
By Jim Rowe
Solid performance to end league campaign
It was the Angels first 0-0 result of the season but the single point was enough to confirm their final placing of 4th in the league table, an improvement of no less than 16 places compared with 2014/15. Whatever happens in the play-offs, this is a tremendous achievement by Steve McKimm and the squad , and surely bodes well for the future.
With play-off participation assured, two or three first team players were rested which handed starts to Jack Brivio and Charlie Slocombe with the bench largely comprising of squad players. It proved to be a sensible move by McKimm as part of the preparation for a play off sem-final Thursday showdown with East Thurrock with the quality on show enough to gain that vital point but at the same time giving some younger squad members valuable first team experience and they certainly didn't let anyone down.
The scoreline gives the clue that this was hardly ever a classic. The visitors generally looked the more assured on the ball but at times the endeavour shown by the Hillians made it difficult to see how they have failed to win a single league game in 2016 and why they needed points to avoid ending the season in the drop zone.
In the 6th minute Tom Parkinson rattled the Burgess Hill crossbar following Luke Allen's free kick while at the other end on 26 minutes Pat Harding warmed the hands of Anthony Di Bernardo who only gathered the ball safely at the second attempt. Scott Kirkwood on 39 minutes in a good position headed straight at Di Bernardo and as the half was coming to a close Allen and substitute Royce Greenidge combined well but the final shot was just wide.
There was a touch more urgency about the visitors in the second half with Royce Greenidge playing a more central role up front and running the Burgess Hill defenders while Bradley Woods-Garness was able to use his pace to greater effect on the flank. Tonbridge were certainly not having things all their own way with chances falling to James Fraser in the 62nd and 66th minutes but it was the Angels who in th 78th minute came closest after good work by Woods-Garness down the right with his cross fumbled by keeper Josh James but helped out by his collegue Dan Pearse.
Both teams kept plugging away as the game reached its conclusion but somehow it seemed it would remain goalless despite the best efforts of Greenidge in stoppage time whose interception nearly handed all the points to the visitors.
The draw was not what Burgess Hill needed following Needham Market's win against Dulwich as it meant they finished in a releagation position. It may well be they will be reprieved as Farnborough face automatic demotion due to financial irregularities.
Afterwards McKimm praised his side for the clean sheet and the way the younger players applied themselves. "At times the final ball could have been better but we've kept going and confirmed 4th place which is what we wanted to achieve from the game. Support today was terrific, we absolutely believe we can get a result at East Thurrock on Thursday and look forward to our fans travelling in numbers."