After ten games and five years, Hassocks finally do it
Good things come to those who wait and that was certainly the case for Hassocks, who have had to wait 10 games and five years to record a victory over Pagham.
At the Beacon, they finally got their first win over the Lions since the 2013-14 season and in some style too, dishing out a 4-0 hammering thanks to Phil Johnson’s first half double and second half strikes from Liam Benson and Will Broomfield.
If the Robins hadn’t have been able to break their awful recent record against Pagham on this occasion, then they probably never would.
When Hassocks lost 5-2 at Nyetimber Lane back in November, it looked like the the Premier Division title race would be a two-horse contest between the Lions and their neighbours Chichester City.
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That meant aspirations of silverware have been replaced with the mere hope of clinging onto a top 10 finish and Hassocks could yet overhaul them in the race to do so, which would have been unthinkable after that previous meeting.
Mark Dalgleish’s side are now just six points behind the Lions with seven games remaining and they need just one more point to reach the magic number of 40 although in truth, they’ve been safe from the spectre of relegation for some time now.
Dalgleish made three changes from the side which had lost 1-0 at Lingfield a week previously with scorers Johnson and Broomfield both returning to the starting line up after recent bouts of injury alongside Lewis Westlake who was handed the first start of his second spell with the club.
It didn’t take long for Johnson to get up and running as two goals from the Robins’ top scorer in the first 15 minutes set his side on the path to victory.
The first came with only five minutes on the clock, a superb passing move flowing through Dan Stokes, Harvey Enticknap and Benson before Johnson applied an emphatic finish past Jordan Matthews.
His second was a classic Johnson goal featuring pace and clinicalness as he burst his way through a static Pagham defence and coolly rounded Matthews before rolling into the now-unguarded net to double the lead.
Pagham’s shyness in front of goal meant that they failed to create a meaningful opportunity in the first half and Hassocks could and probably should have been out of sight but they succeeded in getting just one of their numerous chances on target.
That came thanks to Benson, who was only denied by a fantastic stop from Matthews, diving at the feet of the Robins striker to divert the ball at the final second when Benson was all set to pull the trigger.
Pagham did at least offer something for their supporters in the second half, eventually testing Josh Green eight minutes after the restart.
It was some neat build up play that led to George Bingham finding himself with the ball and he advanced to 25 yards out before unleashing a shot that Green did well to keep out.
That proved to be the Lions’ only shot on target and also acted as a wake up call for Hassocks, who duly upped their game and added a third seven minutes later through Benson.
It was a goal born out of hard work, Benson showing great tenacity to keep harrying James Horncastle before pouncing on the Pagham man’s
last ditch clearance and smashing in from five yards out.
Broomfield netted the fourth with 15 minutes left to play when Pagham failed to deal with a free kick in and he reacted quickest to prod home the loose ball from close range.
The Robins had a header harshly disallowed late on for a push on Matthews whilst the Pagham goalkeeper also did well to keep out another Johnson effort as Hassocks’ captain went looking for a hat-trick, which would have been his first treble for the club since 2015.
Johnson’s wait goes on but Hassocks’ for a win against Pagham is over.
Hassocks: Green; Tighe, Jacques, Broomfield, Whittingham; Stokes, L Westlake, Enticknap; Johnson, Benson, Lindsey.
Subs: Badger, Bull (used), Slaughter, Wickwar (unused).
Starman: Harvey Enticknap.