Hassocks 0, Lancing 0: Dogged defensive display keeps it goalless again
For the third game running a dogged defensive display earned Hassocks a 0-0 draw, this time against high flying Lancing.
That made it two shutouts back-to-back against the teams sitting third and first in the Southern Combination League following the Robins recording of the same result against Eastbourne Town four days previously.
They have now gone 378 minutes without conceding, the last team to find a way past Alex Harris and his back four being the same opponents they faced here when they met 11 days ago in the Peter Bentley League Cup which resulted in a 4-0 win for Lancing.
Two goals inside the first quarter of an hour did for Hassocks that night at Culver Road but Lancing were unable to repeat the trick against a Robins side who have showed steely determination in the face of a mounting injury crisis.
Jamie Hillwood and George Brown played at 70% fitness while Phil Gault joined the growing absentee list after a huge gash he received in his leg on Tuesday required him sitting in A&E until 5am Wednesday morning and 10 stitches for his troubles.
Just to add to those woes, they lost Rowan Wallis after 10 minutes when he pulled up lame but the resulting reshuffle that saw Bradley Bant enter proceedings with Tom Barnes dropping into centre back was seamless as the first half frittered away without any noteworthy efforts on goal for either side.
Lancing were the closest to breaking the deadlock in the arid opening 45 when the Hassocks offside trap was sprung with ease but the resultant attempted lob was a poor one straight into the hands of the grateful Harris.
Things picked up in the second half, Lancing quick out of the blocks with captain Naim Rouane lashing wide before Hassocks came into the game as substitute Dan Stokes - who replaced another injured player in the shape of Mark Price at the break - was slipped in by Bant only to see his effort blocked by Josh Spinks and then Michael Death volleyed just over from the resulting corner.
Jamie Hillwood’s attempted pull back when in acres out on the left was scrambled away with Jack Wilkins lurking and Death was inches away from connecting with a header after a fierce leap to a delightful delivery in.
Both teams went for the jugular in the final 10 minutes, Lancing’s Mike Williamson somehow missing a header from point blank rage and then just failing to get his toe to a low ball in with the goal gaping before George Brown’s delivery found Death totally unmarked eight yards out only for the ball to bobble up right in front of his swinging foot with the resulting effort flying over the crossbar.
Alex Bygraves made a vital clearance from a Bradley Tighe cross with Death loitering at the back past and Lancing scuffed their final opportunity in the dying embers of the match, a solid save from Harris ensuring the spoils were shared.
“First and third in the league have failed to score past us,” said a happy Phil Wickwar after the game. “With the players that we have out, we’ve had to set up to be hard to beat and it has worked.”
“It was the right result but if we had not lost Wallis and Price - although it isn’t unusual for Pricey to last no more than 45 minutes - we might have been able to get our noses in front and sneak a win.”
For more Phil Wickwar quotes, click here.
The result sets Hassocks up nicely for a busy Easter weekend when they travel to Pagham on the Saturday and then host improving St Francis Rangers in the Mid Sussex Derby on Easter Monday when fans who show a season ticket from any other club can gain entry for half price and under 16s go free.
Hassocks: Harris; Tighe, Marsh, Wallis, Brown; Wilkins, Westlake, Barnes, Price, Hillwood; Death.
Subs: Bant (Wallis), Stokes (Price), Benson (Death), McCormick (unused).
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