Hassocks and Broadbridge Heath do their best to warm up a freezing Beacon with a fiery encounter

Football returned after the latest lockdown as Hassocks and Broadbridge Heath did their best to warm up a freezing Beacon with a fiery encounter.

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 7:56 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 8:00 am

Both sides ended with 10 men and referee Daniel D’Urso issued so many further yellow cards that even the Royal Mail would have been struggling to keep up.

In terms of goals, there was only one of those. Mark Zydonik scored it on 23 minutes to decide the game

1-0 in favour of the visitors who, despite arriving 17th in the Premier Division table, have now completed a league double over the Robins after winning by the same score line at High Wood Hill Sports Ground back in October.

To be fair to Heath, their precarious position just above the relegation is a bit of a red herring.

They were one of the first Southern Combination League sides to be impacted by Covid-19, having to forfeit their FA Cup tie with Haywards Heath Town and sit out two weeks worth of matches after a positive test back in September.

That understandably led to a disjointed start as they lost their first three games of the season, scoring just twice and conceding 14 times.

Something clicked for Chris Simmons’ side around the time Hassocks visited them and they had racked up a series of impressive results before the November pause in the season brought things to a grinding halt.

The enforced four week break came at a bad time for Hassocks too. The Robins were in good form beforehand, climbing to the dizzy heights of seventh spot in the Premier Division.

Entertainment was in high supply with 35 goals flying in at the Beacon in just six matches.

A month off meant that the excitement was never likely to match those pre-November levels as both sides were suffering from the ring rust that came with being unable to train during lockdown, let alone play matches.

Hassocks had last taken to the field on October 24th against Langney Wanderers, when hat-tricks from Charlie Pitcher and James Littlejohn blew away the visitors 7-2.

The Robins made two changes from their starting XI for that one. Teenager Luke Marshall replaced Will Broomfield at centre back and Phil Gault missed out as Josh Short came into midfield with Littlejohn partnering Pitcher in attack.

Hassocks had the first chance of the evening in the seventh minute but Liam Matthews in the Heath goal repelled the one-on-one expertly in the only piece of work either goalkeeper had to do until Heath took the lead.

It was an all too familiar goal for Hassocks to concede as it came from a set piece. Jamie Robinson’s swinging delivery from the right flank was met by Ollie Joels.

Charlie Pugh did well to keep out Joels’ header, only to see Zydonik be in the right place at the right time to tap home the rebound, although Hassocks felt there was a hint of offside.

Heath forced the first chance of the second half when Pugh made a fine save from Charlie Parmiter just 30 seconds after the restart.

Hassocks struggled to make much headway in a game of few chances and their task of getting back into the match looked like it would be made a little harder when Andy Whittingham was sent off just past the hour mark.

The left back overran the ball slightly and his attempts to retrieve the situation went badly wrong when he went straight through Alfie Jones to pick up a red card for which there could be little complaint.

Jones did not take that too well and he instantly set out to gain revenge on anyone he could find. Five minutes later and he joined Whittingham in the red card club after an equally reckless and late challenge deep in the Hassocks half.

Those two incidents sparked an almighty meltdown in discipline with six yellow cards in the final 25 minutes.

Who knows what was said to the players on the Robins bench, but Hassocks managed the impressive feat of having all three substitutes booked once they had been introduced.

Jake Chadwick lasted nine minutes before Mr D’Urso flashed him a yellow, Jamie Wilkes picked up his caution for persistent fouling in 15 minutes which included giving away what felt like five free kicks in the space of a minute and Louis Pittock marked his first appearance since a September injury with a booking.

For Heath, Scott Buchanan was shown yellow for his part in the melee that followed Whittingham’s dismissal and was later joined by Craig Goodsir and Robinson.

With so many flashpoints breaking out all over the field, chances became even more at a premium once it was 10 v 10, Pugh making the only save of the last 20 minutes when turning away a Robinson header.

Hassocks: Pugh; Gardner, Marshall, Turner, Whittingham; Enticknap, Short, Bant, Troak; Littlejohn, Pitcher.

Subs: Chadwick, Wilkes, Pittock (used), Evento (unused).