It was with a whimper rather than a bang that Hassocks finished their season as they fell to a 4-1 home defeat to Wick & Barnham United.
The Robins had gone into the break one goal to the good after Jonno Melia took his tally for the season into double figures but the visitors hit back with four unanswered second half goals as Hassocks totally fell apart after the break.
There was a sizable crowd crammed into the Beacon thanks partly to Hassocks Falcons taking on Marle Place in an enjoyable under 7s exhibition match before Hassocks and Wick locked horns for the final game of the campaign and those young players and their families who stayed on from the preceding action were rewarded with an entertaining first half.
Phil Gault in particular looked lively in the opening exchanges; the talismanic forward having a decent effort stopped by United goalkeeper Jordan Matthews, seeing a good interception deny him the chance to latch onto a near-perfect ball from James Oliver and then Matthews again blocked a one-on-one effort.
From the resulting corner Rowan Wallis channelled his inner Jackie Chan with a left footed roundhouse volley that was just over while the Jack and Jill Sniper was back with a vengeance as a Wick player hit the deck all too easily after a Tom Barnes challenge in the box.
Wick count among their number the Premier Division’s second top goalscorer in Daniel Simmonds and he belatedly began to make an impression on the game once things calmed down after that breakneck start, rattling the Hassocks crossbar from a full 30 yards, lashing just wide and then beating Barnes only to see his effort comfortably saved by Alex Harris.
And then came Melia’s opener. The rapid winger played an absolutely delightful one-two with Michael Death before skipping away and firing past Matthews with aplomb for his 10th goal of an impressive first season at the club.
Straight up the other end and Wick had a great opportunity to level before the break but Harris showed great intelligence to stand up, remain big and force Morgan Forry to shoot high and wide before Gault somehow escaped without a booking for a typically articulate and well thought out rant to referee Ian Moore after he was penalised for a trip.
The Robins made it to the break with their lead intact but they didn’t get far into the second half, Joseph Matthews rattling home virtually straight from the resumption after nobody in a red shirt was able to convincingly clear.
Melia had a glorious chance to restore the lead after Liam Benson showed great strength to hold off a challenge and pull back but the eventual effort was high, wide and handsome and that proved to be costly as two goals in the space of two minutes just before the hour mark from Andrew Chick and Simmonds put United firmly in command.
The second of those was straight out of the comedy book of defending as Wallis and Harris got themselves into a right miscommunication mess allowing Simmonds to tap into an empty net and the dangerous forward completed the scoring from the penalty spot after Barnes was deemed to have handled.
Credit to Hassocks though, they didn’t give up despite the game being all but over and could have pulled another back, a big penalty appeal after Melia was felled in the box being ignored by Mr Moore and then Gault did superbly to pull a cross back across goal which Melia could only succeed in toe poking wide.
After the game James Westlake was presented with the richly deserved award for Supporters Player of the Season which was the start of a good weekend for the midfielder who would go onto run the London Marathon in a personal best of 2.29.19secs on Sunday, finishing a quite remarkable 60th overall.
Hassocks: Harris; Barnes, Marsh, Wallis, Oliver; Benson, Bant, Hawkes, Melia; Death, Gault.
Subs: Wilkins (Benson), John, Price, R Wickwar (unused).
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