Hassocks have never won a senior trophy in their 114 year existence and they ensured that duck won’t be broken in the Peter Bentley League Cup, exiting this seasons competition in a limp 2-1 extra time defeat at the second round stage to AFC Uckfield Town.
Uckfield were down to 10 men when substitute Finlay Brown netted their 100th minute winner, having seen captain Joe Miller dismissed for a quite brilliant hand ball with five minutes of normal time remaining that allowed Josh Hawkes to pull the Robins level from the spot.
Despite their man advantage, the Robins couldn’t find another way through as they came up against a well organised 10 man defence and on the rare occasions they did manage to worm a way past it, Matt Dann in the visitors goal was on sparkling form to help his side advance to the last 16.
The first half was an absolute non affair with the highlight being a torrential downpour that came from nowhere and forced a mass charge of supporters gathered on the clubhouse side of the Beacon to head for shelter in the bar.
Even the dugouts emptied at the severity of the rain, the Uckfield management seeking solace under the roof of the building along with Hassocks substitute Mark Price and coach Paul Rogers.
No doubt Dann and his opposite number Alex Harris wished they could have left the field at that point as well, neither having a save of any note to make in a turgid opening 45 minutes in which the only real chance was for Uckfield’s Dominic Clarke who defied all logic to put a header wide from six yards out when totally unmarked in the middle of the goal.
A shot on goal finally arrived just before the hour mark and with it Uckfield had the lead, Clarke sweeping home a Terry Dayne cross after finding himself free in acres of space in the middle of the penalty box.
Harris received lengthy treatment shortly after that opener and to compound a miserable day for the Robins, it now looks as though they could lose their number one for a number of weeks to injury.
It was just as well then that going 1-0 behind along with the introduction of Jamie Hillwood and Ben Bacon for Nathan Miles and Michael Death seemed to finally kick his side into gear, meaning he again became a virtual spectator.
Debutant centre back Jordan Badger from Lewes was proving to be a real handful from set pieces and he glanced a James Westlake delivery just wide while Bacon showed terrific feet to slalom his way past a couple of defenders but Dann remained big to make an impressive one on one save.
The came the Hassocks equaliser. A Bradley Bant free kick was flicked on in the box and with Dann well and truly beaten, Miller threw himself through the air to tip the ball over for a spectacular save which, what with him not being the goalkeeper and all, resulted in a spot kick and a red card.
Hassocks had a pretty inglorious record from 12 yards last season but Hawkes made no mistake here to power home before a couple of chances came and went to win the game in the final five minutes, Bradley Tighe seeing a deflected effort brilliantly saved by Dann’s outstretched leg and Badger again rising like a salmon to head home powerfully only to see the goal disallowed for a tight offside decision.
That meant extra time beckoned and it was 10 minutes old when Brown struck the winner, the powerful Andrew Dalehouse beating three weak Hassocks challenges on a meandering run down the left to tee up the young substitute for the ultimately decisive goal.
Hassocks: Harris; Tighe, Marsh, Badger, Akehurst; L Westlake; Hawkes, J Westlake; Bant; Death, Miles.
Subs: Hillwood (Death), Bacon (Miles), Stokes (L Westlake), Price, Barnes (unused).
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