Lancing beat Hassocks in battle of the form sides

Spencer Slaughter in action against Hassocks. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Spencer Slaughter in action against Hassocks. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Two of the Southern Combination League Premier Division's form teams met at Culver Road where Lancing were the ones to continue their impressive climb up the table with a 2-1 success over Hassocks.

The Lancers had been presented with the Team of the Month award prior to kick off after wining six out of eight in all competitions throughout September while Hassocks came into the game with four wins from their last five after that dismal run of nine consecutive defeats.

Hassocks celebrate Lewis Westlake's early goal. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Hassocks celebrate Lewis Westlake's early goal. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Hassocks' form has been all the more impressive when you consider they are in the middle of a run of games that Phil Wickwar described afterwards as being "difficult and unhelpful."

The Southern Combination fixture list has always had an eclectic look to it, what with the challenge of catering for clubs who still could be competing in five competitions but even so, to give the Robins a run of three home matches in 11 games stretching from mid September to mid November seems particularly harsh.

They have another away game to potentially cram in there as well having been handed a trip to the Pilot Field to take on Bostik League side Hastings United in the second round of the Sussex Senior Cup, while Wickwar also expressed his frustration that they have no match scheduled for next Saturday despite the fact there are another seven other top division sides who are also not in action due to the FA Vase.

You can see his point. With wet weather undoubtedly to come once winter rolls in, surely something could be done to a move a game between two sides not playing this Saturday from the depths of January or February - when postponements are most likely - to mid October?

Action from Saturday's game. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Action from Saturday's game. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

The Robins joint boss had few complaints about the result however. "We struggle here and always have, especially since the artificial pitch went in. No matter what they say, it is different to playing on grass and Lancing are always going to manage it better than we do as they are used to it."

Not only is the pitch artificial, but it is also the biggest in the county and there were plenty of wide open spaces for the home side to take advantage of on their way to what ended up being a pretty routine victory.

That was something else acknowledged by Wickwar afterwards. "Tactically we maybe should have set up differently and that might be something that has cost us."

Two hours before Wickwar held court in the aftermath of the defeat it didn't look as though an introspection was going to be needed as Hassocks flew out of the traps once again.

Their revival has been built on early goals with the Robins having taken the lead inside of 10 minutes in all four of their recent victories and they set their stall out early again at County HQ when Lewis Westlake put them ahead with five on the clock.

A fantastic inswinging free kick from from ex- Lancing player Bradley Bant led to chaos and confusion in the hosts box where another of their former players Lewis Westlake eventually managed to get a final touch onto the ball to score against the side he left for the Robins two summers ago.

Bant and Westlake are two of a large number of players to have moved between the two clubs in recent years and it was another of those who put Lancing ahead with the second half just three minutes old.

Alex Spinks had a brief spell with Hassocks under Mickey Jewell in the 2013-14 season and he was on hand to give the Lancers the lead, following on from David Marsh's equaliser for the hosts five minutes before the break when Marsh gleefully swept home a loose ball after Hassocks had failed to clear a corner.

There was plenty of huffing and puffing after that with Spencer Slaughter going close to levelling things up with a header but in truth Hassocks never really looked likely to get back into the game and their misery was completed when Josh Clayman added a third for Lancing with five minutes remaining.