Another fruitless trip to Peacehaven for Hassocks - but Dalgleish's men will be wondering what might have been

Liam Benson scored Hassocks' goal
Liam Benson scored Hassocks' goal

Journeys back from Peacehaven & Telscombe have never been particularly pleasant for Hassocks in the past.

Only twice in 11 visits have they ever left the Sports Park with all three points. That record was extended to two in 12, but on this occasion Mark Dalgleish and his players would've spent the 16 mile trip home wondering what might have been.

They played their best football of the season and did so for the majority of the game with only 10 men following Alex Spinks' dismissal with 30 minutes played. The 3-1 scoreline really did not reflect what had gone on, which is where Hassocks' wonderment can come from.

They had flown out of the traps, largely inspired by the brilliant Phil Johnson. It feels like the Robins have been waiting a lifetime to unleash their new centre forward with injury and holiday restricting him to just one brief substitutes appearance since his summer return from Horsham YMCA.

Johnson's first start came in place of the absent Jake Lindsey and he should've had a penalty inside of two minutes when a heavy tackle from Jack Phillips was remarkably deemed legal by referee Luke Chapman.

There were two more glorious chances for the Robins in a barnstorming opening period that ebbed and flowed before Peacehaven took the lead with 15 minutes played, Sid Adams embarking on a driving run down the left hand side before delivering a low cross which Marcus Richmond smashed home from six yards.

Hassocks responded well to that setback and Johnson and Liam Benson both went close while at the other end Alex Harris had to make a smart stop to deny Richmond his second.

It was noticeable by this point that Spinks and Tye captain Riley Grant had some real issues with each other, the pair earning a talking to in the Peacehaven box from Mr Chapman after a coming together.

That had little effect and five minutes later they clashed again in the penalty box at the other end of the pitch, which culminated in Spinks head-butting Grant.

Spinks protested his innocence, claiming that he'd never made contact but the damage was done the moment he'd lent towards Grant and Mr Chapman quite rightly produced the red card.

Hassocks lost their discipline slightly after that, Jordan Badger having to show the qualities that have seen him handed the Robins armband at such a young age by bringing his side back under control. Alongside Will Broomfield, there was real leadership at the back.

Once they'd regained their composure, the Robins set about testing Alifeu Secka in the Tye goal and he was called into producing one outstanding save in particular, pushing away a free-kick right on the stroke of half time to ensure that Peacehaven went into the break ahead.

Peacehaven began the second half the quickest and Hassocks were grateful to the post for ensuring they didn't slip further behind within just two minutes of the restart when Curtis Ford's effort beat Harris but not the upright.

Hassocks knew that what they were lacking in men they could make up for in work rate with Johnson, Benson and Jack Wilkins all running themselves into the ground, Spencer Slaughter proving to be a driving force in midfield and Harvey Blake continuing his impressive start to life in senior football with an all-action performance at right back.

It was fully deserved when they equalised from the penalty spot just past the hour mark. A cross came into the Peacehaven box and Secka was clumsy in his attempts to try and gather it, only succeeding in bringing down Johnson who would've been well placed to score.

The Tye felt the decision harsh and after a lengthy delay, it was Benson who was entrusted with the spot kick after Slaughter's miss the previous week in the FA Cup and he duly dispatched the penalty with aplomb.

Things were level for only five minutes when Peacehaven were awarded a penalty of their own after Ford was pushed in the back in the box with Richmond converting the spot kick.

Hassocks desperately tried to find an equaliser after that but it was Peacehaven who made the game safe thanks to a huge element of luck.

Jake Brocklebank hit a distance effort which looked like it was on it's way to causing destruction to a nearby housing estate before it connected with Ford, who's buttocks managed to divert the ball in the complete opposite direction, leaving Harris stranded and handing Peacehaven all three points.

Hassocks: Harris; Blake, Badger, Broomfield, Bant; Stokes, Slaughter, Spinks, Wilkins; Benson, Johnson.

Subs: Mills (Stokes), Berridge (Wilkins), Bull (Slaughter)