Robins halt run of four defeats with battling point against Marigolds

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151116-000105008
Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151116-000105008
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Hassocks halted a run of four consecutive defeats with a superb battling point against reigning Southern Combination League champions Littlehampton Town.

The visitors arrived at the Beacon full of confidence on a seven game winning streak in county competitions which had begun on their last visit to Hassocks, a 5-0 RUR Charity Cup victory back in September.

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151115-235350008

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151115-235350008

Given the Robins recent woes, even the most ardent of home supporters could have been forgiven for fearing the worst in terrible weather with heavy rain and a swirling wind never relenting during a surprisingly entertaining game given how difficult the conditions were to play in.

Hassocks were a good value for their point and perhaps could have even nicked all three, Phil Gault heading over when unmarked and well placed in the dying minutes from a position in which nine times out of the ten the clinical striker scores.

It was his strike partner Michael Death who had given the Robins the lead inside the first ten minutes although it owed a big thanks to visiting boss George Gaskin whose attempts at some cheeky foul play backfired spectacularly.

With Spencer Slaughter looking to take a quick free kick just in front of the away dugout, Gaskin kicked a spare ball from the touchline into play leaving the referee with no choice but to pull the game back.

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151115-235440008

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151115-235440008

That worked out brilliantly from a Hassocks point of view as from the retake the ball found it’s way to Gault whose knock down was met with a crunching volley from Death that went in via a post.

Littlehampton should have been level a few minutes later but somehow the forward contrived to put a header high, wide and handsome from a matter of yards with the goal gaping.

It was the dangerous George Landais who levelled things up on 24 minutes from the penalty spot after Nick Pitcher was adjudged to have hauled down a striker who was bearing down on the Hassocks goal.

Pitcher was clearly incensed with Richard Sargeant’s decision to award a spot kick despite producing a foul that would have been deemed a great try saving tackle in a game of rugby and he did well to receive only a booking for his troubles for what some referees may have interpreted as denying a clear run at George Willett.

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151116-000012008

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151116-000012008

There could be no complaints about Littlehampton’s second, a cross from out on the right met with an absolutely stunning acrobatic volley from Peter Beadle that looped into the top corner.

With the wind now against them, it appeared as though it would be a long second half for Hassocks and those thoughts were initially confirmed as Town dominated the early stages, forcing several good stops from Willett and then hitting the woodwork as the Robins goal led a charmed existence to say the least.

They did grow into things as the half went on and things became very stretched, Gault drawing a couple of fine saves from Jon Hendrick and long range efforts from both Slaughter and Hawkes giving the Littlehampton goalkeeper something to think about.

With tired legs across the park after such a battling performance, Hassocks introduced Jack Wilkins and Jonno Melia from the bench and it was the latter who snatched the equaliser with his first couple of touches, outstripping Scott Packer out on the left flank before neatly finishing the one-on-one opportunity past Hendrick.

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151115-235407008

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151115-235407008

Ashley Marsh produced a superb block from point blank range to keep the scoreline level before Gault had that great chance late on to secure what would have been a first victory since September.

Not that anybody involved with Hassocks was complaining as evidenced by the cheers that greeted the full time whistle with Phil Wickwar sharing in the supporters and players delight, saying afterwards, “It’s a great point against an in form team but it is only a start. We have to improve still and we will.”

Hassocks: Willett; Barnes, Marsh, Pitcher, Jacques; Bant, Hawkes, Slaughter, Hillwood; Death, Gault.

Subs: Wilkins, Melia (used), Tighe, Akehurst, Price (unused).

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Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151115-235942008

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151115-235942008

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Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151115-235607008

Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151115-235607008