Hassocks 2 Arundel 1
by Chris Francis
Aaron Czech’s first senior goal less than two minutes after coming on as sub gave Hassocks a much-needed win and broke Arundel hearts at the Beacon on Saturday.
With so many high profile absentees, the hosts continued to struggle and their management team were far from happy with the performance. But after two successive defeats to Horsham YMCA, it was important to get back to winning ways and that was just about achieved courtesy of goals at the end of each half.
No doubt the struggling Mullets would have felt a little hard done by but Hassocks had the better chances and it was keeper James Fernandes who emerged as the visitors’ man-of-the-match.
He pulled off some excellent saves but was grateful on several occasions to his defenders as Chris Maynard gave them a testing time with his inswinging corners from the right.
The versatile Kieran O’Callaghan was pressed into service as a striker alongside Phil Gault but it took Hassocks the first quarter of the match to muster any attacking potency. And then some weak finishing enabled Fernandes to impress.
First he denied Gault comfortably after the prolific scorer was set up by Anthony Hibbert and then creator started a sequence of three good chances in no more than five minutes.
From a swift break Jamie Ingham put Hibbert clean through and when he was presented with a second chance after Fernandes foiled him, it was right back Nathan Da Costa who performed heroics to deflect the follow-up effort just wide.
Then Gault appeared to strike a post with a header from Rob South’s long cross before an error by Ryan Peake left O’Callaghan through with only the keeper to beat. Yet again the finish was poor and Mullets survived.
At the other end young AlexHarris was less than convinc
At the other end young Alex Harris was less than convincing as he scooped around a half chance for the industrious Rory Biggs.
The Robins could hardly have chosen a better time to equalise for right on half time a neat move ended with Hibbert striking a superb 30-yarder to finally beat the gallant Fernandes to his left.
At that stage it looked as if it could be a match-turning moment but despite continuing to look the more likely scorers in the second half, Hassocks kept their fans waiting until five minutes from time before Gault played in young Czech for a cool finish.
Certainly it was a little harsh on a plucky Arundel side who had gone ahead after 14 minutes when the classy Russell Hardwell sent over a dangerous cross which finally fell for skipper Scott Tipper to score with a gentle shot on the turn.
the closest the visitors came after the break was when Rory Biggs was allowed to shoot from distance and the effort was neatly turned over by Harris.
Hassocks: Harris; South, Marsh, Pitcher, Maynard; Ingham, Hibbert, Jacques, Davees; O’Callaghan, Gault. Subs: S Brown (Jacques, 60), G Brown (Davees, 64), Czech (Ingham, 83).