Hassocks have every right to feel aggrieved as they lose to bogey side

Phil Johnson scored the Hassocks goal
Phil Johnson scored the Hassocks goal

A clash with bogey side Newhaven was never likely to be the game in which Hassocks ended their losing run but they had every right to feel aggrieved come the final whistle as they went down 2-1 to the title chasing Dockers.

The Robins have beaten their visitors to the Beacon on just three previous occasions and only one of those victories have come in the top flight.

That made this clash a daunting one for the hosts, even before you took into account the fact that Newhaven were named the Southern Combination League Premier Division team of the month for September and had lost just once in their past 14 games.

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Despite that, Hassocks were more than worthy of a point as they hit the post in the first half and then had 80% of possession in the final 20 minutes but just couldn’t find a way past Jake Buss in the Dockers goal.

Dominating against such talented opposition was certainly one positive for Mark Dalgleish to take from the game, as was the performance of Will Broomfield who ensured that the leagues leading marksman Lee Robinson didn’t have a sniff all afternoon.

Dalgleish was forced into making a raft of changes from last weeks defeat at Little Common with Dan Jacques, Dan Stokes, Spencer Slaughter and James Littlejohn all unavailable.

In came Harry Mills, Alex Spinks, Joe Bull and new signing Matthew Ford who arrived from Newhaven in midweek and found himself making his Robins debut against his former club.

There was also a change in formation, Dalgleish opting to stick with the 4-4-2 that had sparked the Robins attempted comeback in their loss at the Oval with Jake Lindsey and Joe Bull patrolling the flanks.

That decision paid dividends with 31 minutes played when Bull got away down the left and delivered a low cross into the six yard box that proved too awkward for Buss to deal with, the ball bouncing off the Newhaven goalkeeper, into the chest of Phil Johnson and into the back of the net to gift the Robins top scorer his 10th goal of the season.

There had been a couple of chances for both sides before Johnson’s opener, Kyle Woolven’s outstretched foot directing a Rob Mallia cross onto Josh Green’s post and then Benson powered a free header from a Lindsey corner against the upright.

Woolven, Ian Robinson and Tom Cooklin all tried their luck from distance without seriously troubling Green while Buss saved from Johnson and Benson.

Newhaven’s equaliser arrived right on the stroke of half time via a sweeping move down the right wing. It started when Woolven picked up possession and broke to release Cooklin; he in turn fed Mallia whose low cross was side footed home by Tristan Jarvis arriving late in the box.

The Dockers contingent seemed extremely bemused in the clubhouse at half time that their side were level at the break having been second best by far in the opening 45.

And that bemusement would’ve turned to disbelief when they took the lead completely against the run of play just past the hour mark.

It was a scrappy goal, Hassocks having six or seven chances to clear a ball bouncing around in their box with

Newhaven having an equal number of opportunities to turn it home before Cooklin eventually took control of the situation and placed a shot just outside of the reach of the stretching Green at the second attempt.

It was all Hassocks after that as the Robins set up camp in the Dockers half, throwing on George Galbraith-Gibbons and Harvey Enticknap in an attempt to make the breakthrough.

They came close as Alex Spinks carved out a number of chances, Harvey Blake came raiding forward from right back to cause problems and Johnson was denied by some desperate defending from the Dockers’ back three of Connor Sidwell, Matt Gunn and Robbie Keith.

But for all their possession, the Robins were unable to find what would have been a deserved equaliser and it was a familiar result as Newhaven escaped with the three points that lifts them up to fourth in the table. Hassocks meanwhile are now just one point outside of the relegation zone ahead of two weeks without a league game.

Hassocks: Green; Blake, Mills, Broomfield, Badger; Lindsey, Ford, Spinks, Bull; Johnson, Benson.

Subs: Galbraith-Gibbons, Enticknap (used), Wilkins, Wickwar (unused).