They’ve been threatening a result and performance like this all season and against Horsham YMCA it all came together for Hassocks as they shocked their title chasing visitors by dishing out a 5-3 hammering at the Beacon.
The Robins gave a devastating display of counter attacking football in the first half to go into the break 4-0 ahead against a YM side who came into the tie sitting third in the Southern Combination Premier Division table.
And although the second half wasn’t quite as comfortable for the hosts, they’d done more than enough to extend their winning run to four games, equalling their total points tally from last season of 28 in the process.
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There are still 16 games left to go in this campaign and if they can keep this level of performance up, there is no reason why Hassocks can’t break the 50-point barrier for the first time in five years.
The form of Phil Johnson will play a large part in determining whether they manage it, and he scored twice against his former club in the first half to take his tally to 18 for the season.
It’s a badly kept secret that YM boss Peter Buckland wants to take Johnson back to Gorings Mead but on this showing of his porous defence, he’d be better off concentrating any future seven-day approaches on Will Broomfield, who had another brilliant showing at the heart of the Hassocks back four.
Broomfield even managed to pop up with his first goal for the club, James Littlejohn and Liam Benson being the other scorers while two of YM’s goals came in second half injury time to make the result appear closer than it actually was.
Buckland held a crisis meeting with his YM squad on Monday following back-to-back defeats to Broadbridge Heath and Shoreham and they certainly seemed to respond to that in the opening stages as they took the game to Hassocks from the off.
That probably suited the Robins in truth as Mark Dalgleish’s side have settled on a style of play that involves using their front three’s pace to break quickly, which is exactly where the first goal came from with 10 minutes on the clock.
It was Hassocks’ first real foray out of their own half, led by Johnson who broke with real pace and purpose only to be halted illegally as he drove into the heart of the YM defence.
Referee Jack Hobbs pointed to the spot and the visitors had few complaints about the decision, Johnson dusting himself down to convert the penalty despite Aaron Jeal getting a relatively strong hand to it.
Broomfield’s goal arrived just past the half hour mark to put Hassocks two ahead. There didn’t look to be much on when the Robins were awarded a free kick halfway into the YM half and out on the right, but the visitors failed to deal with the ball in, leaving it to fall straight to the feet of Broomfield.
The defender still had plenty to do but he showed the sort of footwork you’d associate more with a fleet-footed winger, taking a couple of touches to set himself up for a shot which he neatly placed out of the reach of Jeal.
The Robins were rocking now with their third goal arriving just three minutes later and it was easily the best of the afternoon.
Benson had the ball fired into his feet and he did well to hold off the challenge of YM captain Callum Donaghey before finding Littlejohn arriving in support.
Littlejohn jinked past Dean Carden and hit an inch-perfect through ball to the onrushing Johnson who didn’t have to break his stride, firing emphatically past Carden from the edge of the box.
YM lost their discipline a little after that and began conceding a number of cheap and unnecessary free kicks and it was from one such instance that Hassocks' fourth arrived on the stroke of halftime.
Johnson’s pace and ambition again caused panic in the YM defence and when he was brought down some 20 yards from goal, Littlejohn stepped up and bent a low free kick through the wall and into the far corner.
To their credit, YM didn’t believe the game was up and they launched an almighty offensive on the Hassocks goal in the second half with the Robins being forced to defend deeper and deeper.
That led to YM hitting Josh Green’s crossbar twice before they eventually pulled one back through Guy Harding with 64 minutes on the clock, but they were back in the game for all of two minutes before Benson made it 5-1.
There was an element of fortune to it, a hopeful hoof out of the Hassocks defence being horrifically miscontrolled by Harding, allowing Benson to pick up the pieces and race clear to produce a cool left foot finish which takes him into double figures for the season.
It remained 5-1 right up until what turned out to be an action packed nine minutes of time added on which saw Harding score his and YM’s second, Jack Hartley grab a third for the visitors and Donaghey head for an early bath for two petty yellow cards after his frustrations got the better of him.
Hassocks: Green; Tighe, Broomfield, Jacques, Blake; Enticknap, Mills, Bull; Benson, Johnson, Littlejohn.
Subs: Stokes (Littlejohn), Lindsey (Enticknap), Whittingham (Johnson), Badger, Wickwar (unused).