Hassocks 1, East Preston 0: Death goal puts Robins through in Senior Cup

Michael Death scored the only goal.
Michael Death scored the only goal.

Lower division opponents in a knockout competition more often than not spells disaster for Hassocks but not this time as they progressed to round two of the Sussex Senior Cup thanks to a 1-0 win over East Preston.

Eight eliminations from various cup competitions in the last eight seasons have come against teams from Division One of the Southern Combination League with East Preston once before, Rustington, Seaford Town, Southwick, Little Common, Littlehampton Town, Bexhill United and Steyning Town all having ended the Robins hopes of lifting a first piece of silverware at senior level in the clubs history.

Although the margin of victory at the Beacon was a thin one, Hassocks were more than worthy of progression and had they not been so profligate in front of goal it could have been a similar scoreline to the 4-0 victory they tasted when these sides met as Premier Division opponents back in January.

Much has changed at EP since last seasons relegation trials and tribulations that saw them pick up just nine points with only St Francis Rangers finishing below them and they look to be in a strong position to challenge for an immediate return to the top flight under new boss Bob Paine who bought a number of talented young players from Worthing under 21s to the Lashmar with him in the summer.

That makes them a much tougher proposition than last years version, as shown by the fact they had already claimed impressive FA Cup scalps in eliminating Hassocks' FA Vase conquerors Horley Town followed by Tooting & Mitcham United of the Ryman League South.

Michael Death ensured there was to be no shock on this occasion, finally shattering the EP resistance when heading home a cross from Nathan Miles with 18 minutes remaining for the only goal of the game.

Miles was excellent all evening, a combination of pace and power proving to be a constant menace to EP's young defence with the only thing missing from his performance being a goal.

He had the chances to net one, particularly in the first half when he squandered a couple of opportunities at which point you began to wonder if this would be another one of those occasions that has become all too familiar when the Robins would come to rue not putting a visiting side away.

That feeling grew in the second half. So often the scourge of Hassocks, set pieces were actually proving to be an opportunity for good at the opposite end to where they normally cost the Robins and Josh Hawkes should have done better with two sublime Westlake deliveries.

Death breaking the deadlock calmed the nerves slightly while also giving the crowd hope that they wouldn't have to face the possibility of another 30 minutes followed by a penalty shoot out and there were further chances for Hassocks to make the game safe late on.

Miles was again the architect of those, sending in a couple more delightful crosses which Westlake and Bacon were unable to convert but in the end it mattered not as Hassocks moved into round two for only the second time in the last four seasons.

Hassocks: Broadbent; Mills, Barnes, Badger, Marsh; Hawkes; J Westlake, Bant; Bacon, Death, Miles.

Subs: Akehurst (Mills), Benson, Dollner, Wilkins, L Westlake (unused).

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