FA Cup: Burgess Hill Town 1 Wealdstone 0
PUBLISHED: 11:53 01 October 2017
Wealdstone crashed out of the FA Cup with a shock last-minute defeat at Bostick Premier Division side Burgess Hill Town.
In the final quarter of an increasingly frantic third qualifying round tie of huge importance to both sides, it was the away side that was piling on the pressure with several spurned gilt-edged chances that would have surely put the tie to bed.
And the so-called underdogs seized upon on a single opportunity to find the net from a rare late, late foray upfield when, with 90 minutes on the clock defender Cheik Toure found space outside the area from a throw-in and blasted the ball past Jonathan North who had had previously little to do other than hold onto some hopeful aerial efforts.
Distraught Stones boss Bobby Wilkinson said: “I didn’t sleep at all last night. I need to let the fans know that I take full responsibility for everything. There are things I cannot say about how I feel right now and it does not concern the players.
“We cannot hit the self-destruct button at this club and I will not allow that to happen. We know we didn’t take our chances but must now back the players.
“The supporters have to believe in what we are trying to achieve. Blame me not the players. We will be training hard this week on Monday and Thursday as we prepare for Whitehawk next Saturday.”
Stones started the match without injured Eddie Oshodi and Matty Whichelow and Ryan Sellers was unavailable as he was completing a one-match suspension.
The Hillians started the brighter of the two sides and got the ball forward early as was expected, giving Stones a massive scare after 12 minutes when, in attempting to clear a ball into the box, Matt Day sliced onto the upright and somehow the rebound was eventually cleared.
But that was as close as the home side came in a typically frantic tie with Stones guilty of over hit passes and they struggled to find the rhythm going forward to create openings against a determined defence.
Abo Eisa did get a decent strike in and won a corner with the game settling into an even contest.
But Elliot Benyon, who was back in the front line, was caught offside when well placed on a few occasions before a further three corners in rapid succession for Wealdstone failed to break the deadlock.
Stones looked livelier after the break and Luke Williams found more space and hit just over, then saw his powerful strike pushed away by home custodian James Shaw.
The introduction of sub Alan O’Brien brought more threat down the left as Stones pushed up and worked hard to make the breakthrough against their lower league opponents.
Dan Fitchett was also brought into the action and with the game now seemingly on a knife edge the turning came when with 15 minutes to go Fitchett had a great chance to net but his strike was frustratingly blocked by Shaw who got down well.
It was a gilt edged opportunity that went begging, but final substitute Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick almost made an immediate impact with two mazy runs as the away corners kept flying in.
Hill defended everything that came at them and a final couple of forays upfield by a resilient home side set the alarm bells ringing, with the sucker punch coming right on cue in the final minute to send Stones out of the Cup in a gut-wrenching defeat.
wealdstonne: North, Cox, Okimo, Brown, Day, Wellard, Ngamvolou, Williams, Benyon, Green, Eisa. Subs: O’Brien, Fitchett, Hippolyte-Patrick, Constable, Hill, Godfrey.