CDG 4, Hassocks 6: Unforgettable match for Marsh's big day

Ashley Marsh in his 499th game at Lancing last week. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Ashley Marsh in his 499th game at Lancing last week. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

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Ashley Marsh became only the third player to play 500 games for Hassocks in senior football and it is unlikely to be an occasion that anybody involved with the Robins will forget for some time.

They shared 10 goals with Crawley Down Gatwick, eventually triumphing 6-4 in a game in which at one stage they trailed 4-2 on an absolutely crazy afternoon at the Haven.

Virtually everything that was aimed in the vague direction of the goal from both sides seemed to fly in and those who are paying to watch Hassocks at the minute are certainly getting their moneys worth, this result making it 13 goals scored and 12 conceded in their last five outings.

"There were certain defensive issues at half time which we had to sort out," Phil Wickwar said afterwards which, given that the Anvils had fired in three preventable goals by that point, seemed like a late contender for understatement of the year.

"The players worked themselves into the ground after that for an important win, especially given the personnel issues we had which meant Harry Mills playing out of position in midfield and the lack of match fitness that the likes of Nathan Miles, Jamie Hillwood and Ben Bacon currently have."

The game was les than five minutes old when Down took the lead through Oliver Leslie after the Hassocks defence was caught extremely flat footed from a long ball over the top from Josh Brown.

Inside of 10 minutes and it was 1-1, Hillwood producing an excellent centre which was swept home by Phil Gault.

Things didn't slow down after that, as the next 10 minutes yielded another goal apiece - Miles putting Hassocks into the lead with a wonderfully calm finish after he was released by Gault only to see Down go up the other end virtually from kick off to equalise after the Robins failed to take the opportunity to clear, allowing Marc Pelling to head home.

A barren 15 minutes followed that despite the ball flying from end-to-end as both teams seemed to totally abandon any pretence of defending and the hosts added their third when Lewis Taylor teed up the dangerous Dan Sullivan who drilled in past James Broadbent.

Half time offered an opportunity for everyone to catch their breaths - surely the second half couldn't continue in the same vein? Well it did, Hassocks needing less than five minutes to make it 3-3 as Lewis Westlake's corner was helped on by Jamie Hillwood to Jordan Badger who bundled in his first goal for the club.

If Wickwar and Mark Dalgleish thought that they had sorted those defensive problems at the break, then they were in for a rude awakening as it was just a matter of minutes again from Badger's equaliser to Down retaking the lead, possession being squandered which allowed Josh Brown to net. That made it 4-3 for those struggling to keep up.

Miles added his second of the afternoon after that, twisting and turning like a whirling dervish before netting with aplomb.

Badger didn't have to wait long for his second goal in Hassocks colours, either. A quick free kick from the Robins caught their hosts napping with Gault nodding a brilliant deep cross back across goal where Badger was waiting to score with a thumping header to make it 5-4.

By this stage not even Mystic Meg could've predicted what would happen next. Somehow, Hassocks asserted a sense of control on the game that had been missing for the previous hour and they moved 6-4 ahead through the industrious James Westlake who tapped in after substitute Bacon had produced a wild cross shot.

For a man returning from a month long absence, Bacon looked lively and prior to teeing up Westlake for what would prove to be the final goal of the game he fostered a couple of chances himself, firing high, wide and handsome after good work from Hillwood and then hitting weakly at Martin Hopkins when he had Gault square and the goal gaping.

Hopkins himself made two great saves from Hillwood to prevent the score line becoming any more Sunday League while Marsh celebrated his landmark appearance in the only way he knows how - with a booking.

Hassocks: Broadbent; Akehurst, Badger, Barnes, Marsh; Mills; J Westlake, L Westlake; Gault; Hillwood, Miles.

Subs: Bacon (Hillwood), Price, Death, P Wickwar (unused).

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