Four-goal Johnson makes Hassocks safe with Anvils win

Crawley Down Gatwick v Hassocks. Pic Steve Robards SR1907305 SUS-190318-120415001
Crawley Down Gatwick v Hassocks. Pic Steve Robards SR1907305 SUS-190318-120415001

Four goals from Phil Johnson took Hassocks past the magical 40 point mark as they won a typically entertaining encounter with Crawley Down Gatwick 5-2.

Reaching 40 points has long been considered the mark needed to guarantee Premier Division safety and the Robins have now made it there with six games to spare.

Crawley Down Gatwick v Hassocks. Pic Steve Robards SR1907346 SUS-190318-120639001

Crawley Down Gatwick v Hassocks. Pic Steve Robards SR1907346 SUS-190318-120639001

That it was a stunning performance from Johnson that took them onto 42 for the season.

Johnson was the marquee signing in Dalgleish’s overhaul of the side in the summer, the Robins pulling off quite the coup to re-sign their former youth team product from Horsham YMCA.

They flew out of the stalls at the Haven, taking full advantage of having a strong wind behind their back in the opening 45 minutes to race into a 3-0 half-time lead.

Johnson opened his account for the afternoon with 15 minutes played although there was more than a hint of offside which left home connections feeling hard done by.

There were no such complaints about the second however, strike partner Liam Benson doubling the advantage just past the 30 minute mark.

That was Benson’s 13th of the season, an impressive return from a player who also returned to the Beacon in the summer and one that has maybe been overlooked given the exploits of Johnson.

Right on cue, it was Johnson who then added the third from the penalty spot less than 120 seconds after Benson had struck.

Despite Hassocks’ sizable lead at the break, you couldn’t discount Down from the tie given that they’d have the sizable advantage of the gale-force wind for the next 45 minutes.

Johnson completed his hat-trick with the second half just two minutes old.

Ollie Broad made it 4-1 when he pulled one back on the hour and htey pressed for more but came up against a resolute Hassocks back-four.

Andy Whittingham in was outstanding with Dan Stokes and Lewis Westlake also impressed in midfield.

Johnson added his fourth and Hassocks’ fifth with 20 minutes still to go.

Down’s long-serving Nick Sullivan making it 5-2 in injury-time.

Hassocks: Green; Tighe, Broomfield, Badger, Whittingham; Stokes, L Westlake, Enticknap; Johnson, Benson, Lindsey.

Subs: Bull, Brown, Littlejohn (used), Rowe-Hurst, Jacques (unused).

Starman: Phil Johnson