Chichester City 1
by Scott McCarthy
Anthony Hibbert’s opportunistic second-half equaliser helped Hassocks move back into second place and set up a mouth-watering visit from unbeaten leaders East Preston this Saturday (2pm).
The midfielder collected a poor kick from the Chi keeper and calmly lobbed the ball back over him from just over the halfway line.
It was the least Robins deserved from a tricky encounter played on an uneven surface and in which they fielded an unfamiliar looking back five. Youth keeper Max Collins made his league debut with Alex Grantham handed a first start at right back and Dan Jacques shifted to centre half.
It took just two minutes for Chi to register their first effort on goal, Collins doing well to save a powerful effort, while Phil Gault had Hassocks’ first chance 10 minutes in but his powerful 30-yarder was straight at the keeper.
The hosts should have taken the lead 60 seconds later but a free header was put over from virtually on the goal line.
Gault hit a post after half an hour but Chi broke the deadlock five minutes later when Alex Ansa tucked away the rebound after Collins thwarted Tom Groom low down.
Only a miraculous save then denied Jacques as his thumping far post volley from a free kick was turned onto the bar.
After Hibbert’s second-half equaliser the poor surface took its toll and the game petered out, with both sides seemingly content with a draw. The only action of note was a flurry of cards with three players from each side entering the book – Gault, Marsh and Hibbert the culprits for the Robins.
Mickey Jewell was able to hand a late debut to Zac Dove, while Nathan Cooper also made a welcome return from the bench after nearly two months out with a hand injury.
The draw cut EP’s lead at the top to seven points going into this weekends encounter which will kick off at the earlier time of 2pm and for which half price entry for Brighton and Hove Albion season ticket holders and Kids for a Quid offers are in place.
Hassocks: Collins; Grantham, Marsh, Jacques, Davess; South, Hibbert, Price, Ingham; Knowles, Gault.
Subs: Dove (Price 60), N Cooper (Knowles 89), Pitcher, Czech (unused).
Starman: Jamie Ingham covered the whole pitch, worked hard throughout and was a real driving force in the midfield.