Hassocks are not taking their chances, and it's costing them dear
Two quality goals earned Lingfield all three points from their Premier Division visit to the Beacon, but it was what happened at the other end that was more symbolic of Hassocks’ troubling start to the season.
To put it simply, they aren't taking their chances. The Robins had three or four good opportunities to make more of an impression on the 1-3 scoreline - including their second missed penalty in the space of three weeks.
Part of the reason that they’re not scoring enough was apparent to anyone ordering a beer to enjoy under the Mid Sussex sun.
With normal bar manager Owen John taking part in a charity challenge of running 200 miles across Iceland in 10 days, Phil Johnson could be found serving alongside another injured player in Harvey Blake
The fact that a broken leg means that Johnson is pouring pints rather than scoring goals is a massive blow for Mark Dalgleish.
Take 27 goals out of any side at and they’ll struggle, but especially one that last season relied so heavily on their captain.
Johnson and Blake’s willingness to volunteer - they also took on tannoy announcement duties which were less successful - did at least highlight the spirit and dedication that exists among the players.
They are a tight-knit bunch who clearly want what’s best for the club. And they’ll need plenty of that resolve if there isn’t to be a long, hard winter ahead.
It looked like it might be a long, hard afternoon when Lingfield had the ball in the back of the net after less than two minutes, a huge punt forward from Dan Burnett in the visitors’ goal bouncing over Will Broomfield but Ben Connolly was adjudged to have been marginally offside.
Connolly is to the Lingers what Johnson is to Hassocks and the diminutive forward already has nine goals to his name this season.
He was a real threat all afternoon, fashioning the second chance of the game just past the quarter of an hour mark when he skipped past four home challenges but fired wide with just Josh Green to beat.
Hassocks sparked into life after that and might have taken the lead had their final ball been better.
Matt Berridge tried to play in Ben Bacon but there was just a little too much on the pass and then Bacon picked the pocket of Corbin Turner but his low cross was out of the reach of Jamie Hillwood.
Hassocks opened the scoring on 27 minutes and it was a goal every bit as spectacular as those Lingfield would go onto muster in response.
There seemed little danger as Reece White tried to dribble out of his own half with the ball but 30 yards out from goal he was caught by Harvey Enticknap.
Having won possession back for the Robins with a firm but fair tackle, Enticknap advanced forward five yards and picked his spot, bending the ball into the very top corner.
Hassocks nearly doubled their advantage when James Littlejohn looked set to pull the trigger when played in one-on-one, only for a perfectly timed last man tackle from Zac Fairchild to deny him.
It was against the run of play when Lingfield equalised on 37. TJ Stead spotted a gap between Broomfield and Dan Jacques which he exploited with the perfect lofted pass from out on the left, finding Jake Horn who hit a superb first time volley past the helpless Green.
There wasn’t much Hassocks could do about that but there were certainly questions to be asked about Lingfield’s second which arrived just a minute before the break.
White skipped away down the right and his low cross was somehow allowed to make it all the way to the back post where Horn was waiting for a tap in.
Hassocks replaced Bacon with Liam Benson at half time and he had a good run from kick off which ended with Burnett smothering bravely.
Straight up the other end and Lingfield added their third with the goal of the game.
White delivered a cross field pass to Connolly who defied his small stature with an impressive leap to get the ball under control with his chest.
Even better was to come as he then hit a first time volley from a full 30 yards that flew straight into the stanchion.
That was Lingfield’s last meaningful effort on goal. In the remaining 38 minutes, Hassocks meanwhile saw Benson rattle the bar, Littlejohn put a one-on-one straight at Burnett and Broomfield head just over.
Benson had a header of his own which was off target and Berridge then drew another fine save from Burnett.
At that point, one Hassocks fan turned around and said, “We need the ref to give us a few penalties here as it’s the only way we’re going to score.”
She got her wish in the 84th minute when a shot from substitute Joe Bull was blocked with a hand but if one moment summed up this day for Hassocks, it was Broomfield’s spot kick being kept out by Burnett.
Hassocks: Green; Stokes, Jacques, Broomfield, Whittingham; Berridge, Enticknap; Hillwood, Troak, Littlejohn; Bacon.
Subs: Benson, Bull, Ransome (used), Pople (unused).