Hassocks joint boss Phil Wickwar had a chance meeting with Claudio Ranieri in the week and whatever words of wisdom the Premier League’s table topping manager passed on clearly had the desired effect as the Robins defeated Shoreham 2-1 to pick up their fourth league win of the season.
Two goals in the space of 10 second half minutes from the midfield duo of Spencer Slaughter and Bradley Bant secured the vital three points against a side who have been in freefall since replacing Kane Louis in the dugout with Simon Funnell just over a month ago.
“A fantastic performance and result,” was the verdict of Wickwar although he did admit that his side should have made things a lot more comfortable before Simon Johnston’s 90th minute penalty for the visitors made for an unnecessary tense last few minutes.
It wasn’t until midway through the first 45 that the game sparked in life as Hassocks missed a succession of chances to take the lead.
Bant saw his curling effort squeeze just wide and a decent stop from Seb Bos denied Phil Gault’s stinging volley from a cross from the enigmatic Dan Jacques. Gault in particular was reigning havoc down on the Shoreham defence but it was just one of those days for the experienced striker as when he did finally manage to beat Bos he was denied by the upright after sauntering through the visiting defence and having just the goalkeeper to beat.
Slaughter was also denied in impressive fashion from Bos while Shoreham’s best chance of the first half came when some good build up play led to chaos and confusion in the Hassocks box with the ball eventually bouncing off Dan Stokes and onto the Robins post.
Michael Death was first up in the second half’s chances missed saloon when he somehow hit wide when placed front and centre of the goal before the ball belatedly did hit the back of the net, Slaughter lashing home with aplomb from the edge of the box after being played in delightfully by Gault. One quickly became two when Stokes threaded in Bant who took advantage of the Shoreham defence parting like the Red Sea to coolly finish past Bos.
That woke Shoreham up and they showed a little more attacking intent in the last 20, Harris doing well to parry a dangerous looking cross away and then came a miss that defied believe, a long free kick was typically not dealt with by the Robins leaving a free header that was somehow put over the bar.
Shoreham were handed a late life line when Tom Barnes was adjudged to have handled in the box with Johnston dispatching the spot kick past Harris to deny Hassocks a rarer-than-hens-teeth clean sheet but the Robins held on for the win that puts nine points between them and the relegation zone.
It was a year to the weekend that Wickwar and Mark Dalgleish tasted their first victory in charge over the same opponents after being handed the job and although both are keen to stress that Hassocks remain a work in process, the onus will surely now be on looking up the table rather than down with the eagerly anticipated Mid Sussex Derby away at struggling St Francis Rangers to come next Monday.
Hassocks: Harris; Barnes, Marsh, Wallis, Jacques; Westlake, Slaughter, Bant, Stokes; Death, Gault.
Subs: Tighe (Slaughter), Miles (Bant), Hillwood (Death), Wolfstrome, R Wickwar (unused).
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