Wednesday night’s Velocity Trophy (League Cup) Knockout Stage 2 match with Burgess Hill Town, at The Camping World Community Stadium, could conceivably have been sponsored by ‘Friends Reunited’, such is the propensity of players in both camps who have worn the jersey of each club.
Will Miles, Lee Harding, Jack Brivio, Rob O’Toole and Chris Smith have all enjoyed spells at Leylands Park during their careers while the Hillians’ current squad includes no fewer than seven former Hornets, among them Pat Harding, Scott Kirkwood, Max Miller, Josh James and Steve Sargent and is managed by Jay Lovett, who made a handful of appearances for us back in 2010. With many of them having played alongside each other over the years, there is sure to be an added edge of competitiveness to the tie that, if it goes in the home team’s favour, will see the Hornets reach the quarter-finals of the League Cup for only the second time in our history.
This season’s changed format saw Premier Division teams exempted until the first round, or Knockout Stage 1 to give it its more modern and ‘sexier’ moniker, meaning our 1-0 pre-Christmas victory over Whyteleafe is our only outing in the competition to date. By contrast, Burgess Hill have had to battle through five group matches to earn their first visit to our new ground.
Drawn in a qualifying group with fellow Sussex sides Hastings United, Haywards Heath, East Grinstead, Three Bridges and Chichester City, the Hillians finished top of the pile with a mightily impressive 100% success rate that saw them through to last Tuesday’s knockout affair with our divisional rivals Corinthian-Casuals where, despite going a goal behind, they recorded another fine result thanks to second half goals from Aaron Smith-Joseph and Mason Doughty.
Both sides come into the match on the back of good wins at the weekend, with Lee Harding and Greg Cundle getting the goals in our ultimately comfortable 2-0 success against Haringey Borough, and Charlie Bennett and a late O’Shaye Giraud-Hutchinson goal earned our opponents a 2-1 win at Faversham Town that took them up to 15th place in the South East Division.
Horsham and Burgess Hill met as recently as last summer, when the Hornets came out on top in a pre-season friendly, but the last competitive meeting came in this same competition when, again, Horsham were victorious in a 4-2 success at Lancing in 2017. In fact three of our last four competitive matches with the Hillians have come in the League Cup, with our opponents recording 5-1 and 2-0 wins in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm and will be decided on the night, with penalties taken if the scores are level at the end of the contest.
Our thanks go to Stuart Wilkinson and Absolute Health & Fitness for their sponsorship of this match.
** Supporters should note that as of Tuesday morning the Worthing Road is closed due to flooding and a fallen tree, so are advised to check their route before setting off **
Anyone unable to make the match can follow live updates through our Twitter page @HorshamFC