Hassocks looking to build on highest finish in five years

Phil Johnson in pre-season action against Burgess Hill Town. Picture by Chris Neal
Phil Johnson in pre-season action against Burgess Hill Town. Picture by Chris Neal

After securing their highest Southern Combination League finish for five years last season, Hassocks will be looking to build on that in the 2019-20 campaign which kicks off this weekend.

It will be a historic fixture to begin the season as well that the Robins open with.

Their trip to the New Defence to take on Horley Town will be the hosts' first ever game in the Southern Combination following their sideways move from the Combined Counties League.

Hassocks then face East Preston in their first home fixture three days later on Tuesday 6th August before getting their FA Cup campaign underway against Langney Wanderers at the Beacon week on Saturday.

Wanderers will also provide the opposition in the second round of the Peter Bentley League Cup with Hassocks making the trip to Charlton-based Meridian Valley Park in the first qualifying round of the FA Vase.

The Robins have had a relatively solid pre-season campaign. They pushed their higher division local rivals Burgess Hill Town and Haywards Heath Town close, only losing on both occasions in the last minute as Heath won 4-3 at the Beacon and Hill retained the Ann John Memorial Trophy with a 3-2 victory.

Scoring five teams against Isthmian League sides augurs well going forward. Hassocks also hit five past Division Two opponents Upper Beeding in a 5-0 win and defeated Division One outfit Storrington 4-3.

That the goals have flowed will please Dalglish, particularly given that his forward line is the area that has been hardest hit by the club's three summer departures.

Liam Benson has moved to Premier Division new boys Steyning Town while young Jake Lindsey has gone to last season's runners up Horsham YMCA.

The other big name to leave is Spencer Slaughter with the stalwart midfielder deciding to take up a new challenge at Loxwood after 290 appearances for Hassocks.

Coming in, Dalgleish has managed to secure the returns of three former fan favourites from the Mid Sussex League.

Jamie Hillwood, Nick Pitcher and Arni Kublickas are all back at the Beacon after time spent with Burgess Hill Albion.

Forward Hillwood last played for the Robins in 2017 and will be looking to add to his 22 goals in 102 games for the club.

Pitcher left in 2016 after an injury hit year. He has 130 previous appearances to his name and if back to full fitness will be a valuable addition given his flexibility to play as a defender or midfielder.

Kublickas was last a first team regular in the 2009-10 season under Dave John before going onto become a staple of the reserves treble winning side of 2012-13.

Hassocks' most important pieces of transfer business though probably involve those that they've managed to keep from last season.

27 goal top scorer Phil Johnson had plenty of suitors over the summer but he's committed to another year with the Robins while Will Broomfield also attracted attention but remains at the Beacon.