Hassocks have averaged one 0-0 a season so far this decade and those who witnessed this stalemate with Arundel will be hoping that the trend continues so there won’t be another bore draw to sit through until 2016-17.
The first half was a desperate affair with referee Darren Eaton unwavering in his attempt to set some of record for the most number of fouls given in 45 minutes of football and although the game improved markedly in the second period when the the official belatedly allowed things to ebb and flow, neither side could find a way to break the deadlock.
A draw was probably the correct result with Arundel having the better claim to the three points but they found an inspired Alex Harris - with some help from the frame of his goal - standing between them, the back of the net and what would have been a much welcome victory after four consecutive defeats.
As for his opposite number, Sam Marsden could hardly have wished for an easier afternoon on which to deputise for the Mullets’ regular number one James Fernandes as Hassocks mustered just one shot on target.
That is not to say they didn’t look lively going forward - young Jack Wilkins on his first senior start out on the left in particular gave an impressive account of himself - but they were just unable to turn any of their nice link up play into an effort which troubled the Arundel goalkeeper.
It was a slow start to proceedings, only punctuated by the frequent shrill of Mr Eaton’s whistle, until the 13th minute when Harris set the tone for his afternoon, reacting brilliantly to get the faintest of touches to push Josh Biggs’ effort onto the post with Luke Akehurst able to scramble away the loose ball as it rolled dangerously across the goal line.
Ryan Peake flashed a header wide while at the other end it took some desperate last ditch defending from Ash Hunter who improvised brilliantly to fall over and use his face to deflect a James Westlake effort which was no more than a yard off the ground around the post.
That chance came about through some neat link up play between Wilkins and Michael Death and those two were at it again with seconds remaining of the first half when the former showed great feet to create the room for a delightful curling ball which the latter headed wide with the goal at his mercy.
Thankfully, things were nowhere near as turgid in the second half. Dan Jarvis fired just wide, Harris reacted smartly after a textbook chest and volley from Dave Herbert and again the Robins goalkeeper did well to smother a Jarvis strike after Herbert’s miss kick had put the Arundel midfielder in on goal.
Bradley Tighe was excellent defensively all afternoon but you had to wonder if he’d caught a glimpse of the television in the clubhouse showing England v Wales from Twickenham when he blasted Phil Gault’s pull back into the field behind the west end of the ground as if it were a conversion.
Just past the hour mark and Harris repeated his trick from the first half of faint touch onto woodwork, this time flinging a hand up in desperation more than anything to instinctively divert a Rory Biggs header onto the crossbar.
Then came Marsden’s only save of the game, Gault working some magic to get away down the left with his cross met with an acrobatic effort from the edge of the box by Death which was easy enough for the Arundel goalkeeper to gather.
Harris pushed a difficult bouncing effort from Herbert around the post and then it was the turn of the outstanding Ashley Marsh to deny the visitors with a crucial last gasp challenge on Biggs after a dangerous ball in from Asa Nicholson.
To say the Arundel bench and support were pretty aggrieved to have been denied four penalty shouts by the time the clock rolled around to 90 would be an understatement.
No penalty was rightly the verdict of Mr Eaton, leaving the game goalless and the spoils shared.
Hassocks: Harris; Tighe, Marsh, Wallis, Akehurst; Bant, Barnes, Westlake, Wilkins; Gault, Death.
Subs: Oliver (Wilkins 82), Hawkes (Barnes 84), Benson, P Wickwar (unused).
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