First half goals from Bradley Bant and Jonno Melia proved enough for Hassocks as they returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory at Broadbridge Heath.
There were plenty of questions before the game about how the Robins would respond to losing their nine game unbeaten streak at home to Worthing United the previous Tuesday but 90 minutes later their performance and the three points that game with it had made that defeat look like a blip.
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“A great response and a real effort where everyone played for the team,” was how Phil Wickwar described it afterwards and he was particularly pleased given the absences of Nick Pitcher, Jamie Hillwood, George Brown and Mark Price.
They could and really should have had more in the second half with Heath unable to cope with the counter attacking football at pace that has become something of a trademark of Hassocks’ play over the last few months.
Melia set the tone for a superb personal performance in which he caused the Heath defence all manner of problems when teeing up the opener with a quarter of an hour gone after some great football released him down the left flank and his low cross was knocked home at the far post by Bant.
Bant returned the favour ten minutes later, linking up well with Phil Gault to get away down the right and his pull back was finished with aplomb by Melia.
Heath came out at the start of the second half like a team possessed but Hassocks did well to weather a 10 minute spell of relentless pressure.
After that, the game ebbed and flowed from one end to the other as Heath desperately sought a way back into the game which allowed the Robins to hit them on the break.
That yielded a number of opportunities when Hassocks could, with a little bit more composure, have scored five or six.
Melia was running riot and got in twice down his wing only to miss the opportunity, a trademark James Westlake delivery was headed against a post by Michael Death and substitute Jack Wilkins couldn’t quite find the unmarked Gault with the goal gaping.
Heath were reduced to ten men when Daniel Attwater hauled down Westlake as the diminutive midfielder was clean through on goal but Gault could only fire the resulting free kick over the bar.
The victory sets up Hassocks nicely for Tuesday nights Peter Bentley League Cup semi final against high flying Lancing.
Hassocks have only ever reached the last four of that competition twice in their history, the last time coming back in the 1999-00 season and Wickwar knows they will have it all to do if they are to equal that record.
“It’s a huge game for us as historically we have never been that good in cup competitions and we go to Culver Road as massive underdogs. We will give it one hell of a go.”
Hassocks: Harris; Tighe, Marsh, Wallis, Akehurst; Bant, Hawkes, Westlake, Melia; Gault, Death.
Subs: Wilkins (Death, Stokes (Bant), Barnes (Melia), P Wickwar (unused).
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