Eastbourne Town 3, Hassocks 1: Robins true to form at the Saffrons

Hassocks joint boss Phil Wickwar
Hassocks joint boss Phil Wickwar

The Saffrons was never likely to be the place where Hassocks won their second league game of the season.

You have to go back over 11 years to find the last time a Hassocks side came away from Eastbourne Town with victory, a 5-2 win on the final day of the 2005-06 season.

This 3-1 loss made it consecutive defeat number seven, equalling the clubs worse ever run in senior football, with Phil Wickwar saying afterwards “we’re in a bit of trouble now and everyone needs to realise that.”

Wickwar was asked what his side needed to do to get out of that trouble. He said: “Perhaps we need to assess our tactical approach or the personnel.”

“It’s tough at the minute with a number of injuries, knocks and guys playing out of position. We’ve been here before though, we won’t panic but we do realise that we need a result sooner rather than the later.”

The fixture list hasn’t been kind in that regard. If you thought Hassocks’ record against Town made for grim reading, then it doesn’t get any better for the Robins - their next fixture is against Three Bridges, a side they’ve beaten only seven times in 32 meetings, with only one of those coming in the last 10.

Making a bit start to that clash with Bridges than they made here would certainly be a step in the right direction.

It took just three minutes for Town to take the lead, Aaron Capon hooking a cross into the box for Jason Taylor to tap in.

Hassocks to their credit worked their way back into the game after that and created a number of opportunities for an equaliser.

James Westlake hit a rasping volley just the wrong side of the post and Greg Nessling did well to tip over a Charlie Pitcher header from a pinpoint Dan Stokes cross.

Michael Death should’ve done better even if his one-on-one with Nessling was on his wrong foot but Hassocks were well in the game until the all-too-familiar happened.

It’s been a running theme this season - Hassocks dominate, Hassocks fail to take chances, Hassocks do something stupid, Hassocks are punished.

This time it was some sloppy play in which they gave the ball away under absolutely no pressure. A team of Town’s quality will always punish you for such profligacy and so it proved with Liam Baitup taking full advantage to score.

That came midway through the first half and right on the stroke of half time Hassocks fashioned arguably their best opening of the game, Pitcher spinning his marker to get away but the standard of his finish couldn’t match that of his approach play and the chance was squandered.

The Robins started the second half well but again could put nothing on the scoreboard to show for their efforts and just past the hour mark, Town had their third.

This was a goal that summed up Hassocks’ afternoon and indeed their season so far. Former Bognor Regis Town forward Stanley Porthouse was in on goal at one end on his first start for the Robins with only Nessling to beat when he managed to fall over the ball in long grass that resembled something out of the Amazon.

Straight down the other end Town went, where Jordan Badger was harshly adjudged to have committed a foul, offering Taylor the chance to make it 3-0 from the spot. He made no mistake.

Hassocks did eventually pull one back and as very small consolations go it was at least the goal of the game, Stokes again doing well down his flank to cross for Death who produced a quite brilliant finish for his fourth of the campaign.

That was too little, too late however as the Robins failed to end their Saffrons hoodoo. They will have to end their Three Bridges one if they are to avoid making an unwanted piece of history by becoming the first Hassocks side to lose eight times in a row.

Hassocks: Stroomberg; Akehurst, Barnes, Badger; Stokes, J Westlake, Mills, L Westlake, Porthouse; Death, Pitcher.

Subs: Rowe, Rayland, Maskell (used).