It was a game that Hassocks had to win - and they did just that 3-1 against an ill disciplined Ringmer side who turned up for this vital encounter with just ten players thanks to a strong second half revival.
Phil Johnson’s brace for goals 20 and 21 of the season and a Jamie Hillwood strike saw Hassocks home after they fell behind to Jordan Woodley’s free kick in the first half for the shorthanded visitors.
Just how Ringmer turned up to the game with ten men was a mystery to the Robins contingent but in fairness they were the better side in the first half against a nervy looking home side who knew a win would put a little daylight between them and Ringmer near the foot of the table.
Referee Richard Sargeant was kept busy throughout the game flashing a series of yellow cards and he could easily have dismissed a couple of Ringmer players and Hassocks’ Mark Price in a feisty and tetchy match. Woodley and Jay Tidey were particularly lucky not to see red for the visitors.
Early on George Willett denied Woodley with his foot whilst at the other end Johnson showed superb chest control in bringing down Dan Jacques’s pass before firing inches wide with his half volley.
Johnson had a shot blocked but Hassocks gave the ball away far too frequently and they were punished on 33 minutes when Woodley curled a free kick over the wall after he had been upended on the edge of the box by Tom Barnes, who had an excellent game at the heart of the Robins defence.
Nathan Miles replaced Ryan Collins at the interval and his introduction gave Hassocks added impetus and they levelled matters on 53 minutes, Hillwood finishing deftly from a Barnes through ball.
Willett was called into action to deny Woodley again and then there was a lengthy hold up as Woodley crashed into the advertising hoardings following a tackle from Rowan Wallis.
The Ringmer coaches and supporters looked enraged but it was nothing more than an accidental clash.
Bookings were dished out for Woodley, Price and the vocal Tidey, who was constantly in the referee’s ear throughout the afternoon.
Ringmer had a great chance to take the lead on 75 minutes but Willett made an excellent one handed save to deny Jordan Stubbings.
Two minutes later Hassocks took the lead, Johnson despatching a spot kick after he had been hauled to the ground by Tidey and on 84 minutes the game was made safe when Johnson charged down Ringmer keeper Callum Christie’s clearance after a poor back pass from Dan Rogers and the ball ricocheted into the net.
The last few minutes were safely negotiated by Hassocks to earn the three crucial points which pulls them six clear of the relegation zone and seven short of the standard 40 mark that nearly always guarantees safety.
Joint Manager Phil Wickwar said: “The lads responded very well after the first half, when we didn’t set up right.
It was good to see Nathan Miles playing again and he made a real difference when he came on in an invaluable win and that’s what it’s all about at this stage of the season”
Hassocks: George Willett; Dan Jacques, Tom Barnes, Rowan Wallis, Luke Pawson; Mark Price, Ryan Collins, Bradley Bant, Dan Stokes, Jamie Hillwood; Phil Johnson.
Subs: Nathan Miles (Collins 45), Jake Booth (Johnson 86), Cam Willians (Price 87), Liam Benson, Reece Wickwar (unused).
Starman: Tom Barnes, an assured and composed performance.