Crisis? What crisis? Hassocks win fourth game in a row

Spencer Slaughter scored the third goal. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Spencer Slaughter scored the third goal. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Crisis? What crisis? After nine defeats in a row, Hassocks have now won their past four games after a 3-1 Non League Day victory over Littlehampton Town which could and probably should have been more comfortable, writes Scott McCarthy.

The Golds arrived at the Beacon as one of the few teams below Hassocks in the table and having suffered the blow in midweek of seeing two of their best players, Lee Garnham and George Gaskin, depart the club for Evo-Stik League football with Shoreham.

Hassocks were far from ruthless in despatching of a clearly wounded animal but they showed little sympathy either bar an Alex Harris howler which gave the visitors a lifeline back into the game with 10 minutes remaining after Michael Death and Josh Tuck had put the Robins comfortably in control.

A few weeks ago in the midst of that dreadful run, panic would've set in among the red ranks at that but here they simply went up the other end and earned a penalty, which Spencer Slaughter coolly dispatched to ensure the three points and a big jump up the table to the dizzy heights of 13th spot.

"The second half was one of the best displays we have produced this season and we should've won by more," Phil Wickwar said afterwards.

"Despite the little wobble at the end from young Alex we finished in control which was pleasing. The only disappointing thing was that in the second half we weren't good enough on the ball, and that needs to improve when we have a very tough test at Peacehaven next."

They may not have been good enough on the ball but they certainly created plenty of chances in that opening 45 minutes.

Liam Benson could have put Hassocks ahead inside of two minutes when he caught the Littlehampton defence ponderous and flat footed, but his attempted lob of Mitchell Bromage in the visitors goal was the wrong option given he had time and space to bring the ball under and, given the lethal form he has been in so far this campaign, you would've bet the house on him scoring had he taken that option.

There were no such problems for Death who opened the scoring on 13 minutes with a quite exquisite goal.

Lewis Westlake's corner was only half cleared to the edge of the box where Death was lurking and he bent an effort straight into the top corner from a full 25 yards for his fifth of the season having come into the starting line up for Phil Gault.

That was the cue for Hassocks to become sloppy in possession, which also resulted in their defensive shape going a little skew-whiff but Littlehampton weren't able to take advantage and truly test Harris.

Headed chances came and went just before the interval for both Slaughter, who saw his weak effort easily held by Bromage, and Death who was off target after a probing cross from James Westlake.

Crosses and set pieces were causing Littlehampton real problems and Slaughter went close to doubling the lead within a handful of minutes of the restart but again his header was a weak one from Bradley Bant's pinpoint corner.

Tuck had no such problems when he added Hassocks second on 67 minutes, eschewing the head in favour of a massive knee which connected with Lewis Westlake's corner for his first goal for the Robins.

Death had a couple of good chances after that but was wasteful before that lifeline arrived for Littlehampton, Harris deciding to step over the ball in an attempt to let it roll out for a goal kick rather than pick it up, only to end up with a pretty big pile of egg on his face as Alex Laing kept it in play and pulled back to Benjamin Gray who had the simple task of rolling it into the back of the empty net.

That mistake didn't affect Hassocks however as Death rattled the bar with a run and strike and then lifted just over after some enterprising play by substitute Jamie Hillwood.

Hassocks added their third in the final minute of normal time, Benson rounding Bromage on the counter attack and with the Littlehampton goalkeepers only answer to the situation being to haul down Benson, Slaughter was able to send Bromage the wrong way from the spot to secure three vital points.

Hassocks: Harris; Tuck, Broomfield, Badger; Dawson, J Westlake, L Westlake, Slaughter, Bant; Death, Benson.

Subs: Hillwood (used)