AFC Uckfield Town inflicted a fourth consecutive defeat on Hassocks on Tuesday night as a season that initially looked like it promised much for the Robins continues to unravel.
This was the second time these two sides had met inside a month and Hassocks will no doubt be glad to see the back of these opponents for a while having gone down 2-1 in extra time to them at the Beacon in the Peter Bentley League Cup as August turned to September.
It was an equally close encounter on this occasion with the three points only being truly sewn up for the Oaks thanks to a 95th minute strike from Andrew Dalhouse.
Before that, the tie could easily have gone either way. From a Hassocks point of view, they had enough chances to take something, Matt Dann producing an excellent save from Ben Bacon right on the stroke of half time as well as dealing with a number of splendid set piece deliveries from James Westlake.
From an Uckfield point of view, the margin of victory could have been more comfortable than the two it did eventually end up being, Ryan Cooper seeing an effort cleared off the line and James Broadbent once again underlying what an inspired signing he has proven to be for Hassocks with two superb saves in the space of five second half minutes.
The first half went off at breakneck speed as both sides looked to get on the front foot and it was Uckfield who drew first blood just after the 10 minute mark. Shock, horror; the opener came from a header from a cross; Dalhouse supplying the ball in for Phil Broom to flick beyond Broadbent.
Just before the half hour mark and it was nearly two, Broom just unable to sweep in a Terry Payne delivery after which Cooper was denied by Ashley Marsh’s goal line clearance and Bacon’s effort was somehow kept out by Dann.
While Uckfield may have felt half time had come at just the right time for them with their goal under siege in the final five minutes, Hassocks picked up exactly where they had left of and were level within nine minutes of the restart, Bacon continuing the sizzling start to his senior football career with his fourth goal in nine appearances.
Next came Broadbent’s five minutes of inspiration, firstly getting a hand to a subtle chip from Richie Welch and then saving from point blank range from a Dalhouse effort.
There was nothing the Robins stopper could do to stop Uckfield regaining the lead, Welch hitting an absolute screamer than cannoned off the crossbar and down over the line for 2-1.
Westlake had a couple of testers from set pieces after that while a glaring chance was passed up as Hassocks missed an open goal before Dalhouse eventually ensured the three points remained at the Oaks with a lovely run and finish.
Hassocks: Broadbent; Mills, Marsh, Badger, Akehurst; Hawkes; J Westlake, Bant; Hillwood; Bacon, Miles.
Subs: Stokes, Death (used), Barnes, Tighe, Price (unused).
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