They may have been eliminated from the Sussex Senior Cup at the first hurdle, but Hassocks’ 2-1 defeat at Chichester City on Tuesday night was a sign of how far the Robins have come so far this season.
Rewind the clock to August 7 and the second game of the Southern Combination League Premier Division campaign.
Chi were the visitors to the Beacon and demonstrated why they were one of the pre-season favourites for the title, dismantling Mark Dalgleish’s side 6-0.
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Two months later and the improvement in Hassocks is clear for all to see. They went to Oaklands Park, rested arguably their most important player in Phil Johnson and one of their most consistent in Matt Berridge and still pushed a quality Chi outfit all the way.
Taking the place of Johnson and Berridge were James Littlejohn and Harvey Enticknap. Dalgleish made one further change to the side that battled back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 away at Langney Wanderers at the weekend with Ellis Common coming in for Joe Bull for his first start in over three years.
The first half was a fairly even affair with Chi taking the lead with 30 minutes played. Rob Hutchins delivered an excellent cross which led to chaos and confusion in the Hassocks box with Scott Jones eventually bundling home the loose ball from close range.
Liam Benson levelled things up five minutes before the break, rising to head home a cross from Dan Stokes out on the right.
That signalled the beginning of a manic final five minutes of the half as almost immediately from Chi’s restart, Hassocks won back possession and strung together an identical move to that of their equaliser, only for Benson to head this one narrowly wide.
Chi punished that miss right on the stroke of half time when a long range effort went Josh Green in the Hassocks goal a little too easily.
The hosts were more of a force in the second half and Green atoned for that soft concede with a string of excellent saves from some relatively powerful efforts.
Terrell Lewis grazed the bar with a free kick and the woodwork earnt it’s keep as well being rattled on a couple of other occasions while Hassocks continued to work hard with Benson and Jake Lindsey forcing Anthony Ender into smart stops.
Hassocks had a glorious chance to equalise right at the death, but the opportunity was snatched at as Chi breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The hosts knew they’d been in a game come the final whistle and that itself is evidence of the progress the Robins are making, even if their hopes of an Amex final are over.
Hassocks: Green; Common, Jacques, Badger, Blake; Stokes, Slaughter, Enticknap; Littlejohn, Benson, Lindsey.