Nathan, Miles too good for them

Lancing 1 Hassocks 3

by Paul Elphick

Nathan Miles’ superb hat-trick gave Hassocks a hard fought win against improving Lancing and kept them second in pursuit of leaders East Preston.

Miles produced a brilliant all round performance and capped it with three excellent goals to fully erase the memory of the debacle against Ringmer seven day earlier, partly exorcised by the midweek win at Dorking Wanderers.

With Kieran O’Callaghan still sidelined by a toe injury Nick Pitcher joined Ashley Marsh at the heart of the Robins defence and both had fine games, as did the industrious Dan Jacques on the right side of midfield as he celebrated his 100th Hassocks appearance by setting up Miles’ second goal. Were it not for Miles, Jacques would have earned a successive MoM award.

In a competitive opening, Lancing carved out a couple of good openings. Bradley Bant volleyed over from 12 yards and Charlie Romain dragged a shot wide from an acute angle.

At the other end Phil Gault, just having one of those days in front of goal, volleyed wide before Hassocks took the lead on 28 minutes with a fine team goal. Jack Simpson easily collected a Lancing corner, bowled the ball out to Gault on halfway and he laid it off to Nathan Cooper. The skipper’s pass found Jamie Hillwood marauding down the left flank and when he fed Miles on the edge of the box, the young striker turned former Robin Matt Carruthers before unleashing a ferocious shot past James Shaw.

The strike earned applause from around the ground as did Gault’s audacious volley from a Anthony Hibbert diagonal pass, which crashed against the crossbar and out with Shaw helpless. Miles again tested Shaw just before the interval, the Lancing keeper saving at the second attempt.

Early in the second period, Gault was denied by the feet of Shaw, whilst at the other end Pitcher bravely blocked a Romain effort.

Lancing had quite a bit of possession and put in some dangerous crosses but Marsh and Pitcher in particular, were in the right place at the right time to repel any fightback.

Gault headed over from six yards with the goal at his mercy, while Cooper flashed a left foot shot just wide before Hassocks doubled their lead on 63 minutes. Jacques won the ball in midfield, found Miles inside the box and he turned Dave Sharman before slotting past Shaw.

Five minutes later it was 3-0 as Hibbert’s dipping shot was parried away by Shaw and Miles reacted quickest to turn in his and Hassocks’ third goal.

Lancing responded positively and the lively Ryan Waterman pulled one back with a fine header on 72 minutes. And they almost reduced the deficit further when sub Michael Sims shoting wide.

Miles’ work rate up until the final whistle was phenomenal, tackling back and winning the ball from Matt Hardman and firing in an effort that crashed against the post.

Gault also missed another heading chance in the 90th minute but the job was done for Hassocks, who these days seem to relish their trips away from The Beacon.

Hassocks: Simpson, Bryant, Maynard, Marsh, Pitcher, Jacques, Hibbert, Cooper, Miles, Gault, Hillwood. Subs: Ingham (Hillwood 60), South (Bryant 69) Davees (Maynard 69).

Middy Starman - Nick Pitcher and Dan Jacques would have been in contention any other day bit it can only go to Nathan Miles.