Hassocks 4, Shoreham 1: If you had predicted this, you would have been laughed out of The Beacon

Michael Death celebrates his goal with team mates. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Michael Death celebrates his goal with team mates. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
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One of the most beautiful things about the beautiful game is its unpredictability.

And if you'd predicted on Tuesday afternoon that come 10pm Hassocks would have defeated league leaders Shoreham 4-1, you'd have been laughed out of the Beacon.

Yet that is exactly what happened as the Robins ran riot, producing easily their best performance in at least four seasons - harking back to a time when they were regular challengers for a top four spot - and inflicting a third and heaviest league defeat of the season on the Mussels in the process.

"Brilliant from start to finish" is how Phil Wickwar described the finest result of his and Mark Dalgleish's two-and-a-bit year tenure.

"As soon as we went 2-1 up you could see only us winning it. We got lucky for the third goal - it was a bit of a gift. But it is reward for the players who we have kept the faith in after a bit of a difficult run."

One such player was Liam Benson. Benson has spearheaded the Robins under 21s challenge for honours this season with 15 goals in 16 games and he started here despite the availability of top scorer Phil Gault, who had to settle for a spot on the bench.

Benson rewarded that decision handsomely as he carried his under 21 form into the first team by netting a brace, the fourth and fifth goals of a senior career that looks as thought it could be about to take off in a big way.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this win was that Hassocks had to come from behind to do it. Rob O'Toole gave Shoreham the lead with an a bullet of a strike just before the midway point in the first half.

Going behind against a team as packed with talent as this Shoreham side are has in the past proven to be the point at which the floodgates would open but not on this night as within 10 minutes Benson had drawn the Robins level.

It was an excellent goal from the Robins striker as he latched onto a brilliant through ball to net with aplomb past Josh Heybun in the Shoreham goal and things get even better five minutes later, Jack Rowe-Hurst giving Hassocks the lead via a deflection for his second goal in three games since arriving from Three Bridges.

They took that 2-1 lead into the break and had to weather a lot of Shoreham pressure early in the second half as the visitors desperately tried to find a way back into the encounter.

Despite plenty of huffing and puffing they weren't able to blow down the Hassocks door thanks to some excellent defending from Luke Akehurst, Jordan Badger, Tom Barnes and Ashley Marsh.

And they paid for that inability to find a way through when the Robins added their third of the evening against the run of play.

Set pieces have proven to be an Achilles heel for Hassocks for sometime now but the boot was well and truly on the other foot as Michael Death took advantage of some extremely slack Shoreham marking to produce a delightful flicked header at the near post past Heyburn from a Lewis Westlake corner.

Shoreham poured forward after that but with the energy offered to Hassocks by the likes of Rowe-Hurst, James Westlake and Benson a fourth for the Robins on the counter always looked likely and so it proved as the latter of that impressive trio completed his brace to secure one of the biggest shocks of the Southern Combination League season so far.

Hassocks: Broadbent; Akehurst, Barnes, Badger, Marsh; Mills; J Westlake, L Westlake; Rowe-Hurst; Death, Benson.

Subs: Gault, Wilkins (used), Tighe, Galbraith-Gibbons, B John (unused).