Hassocks 2, Arundel 0: Death double secures vital win
With just six points separating the Southern Combination League Premier Division relegation zone with 11th, Hassocks knew that defeating fellow strugglers Arundel was essential if they were to avoid being sucked too far into a battle for survival.
They had Michael Death to thank for getting the job done as his brace procured a 2-0 victory - the Robins first in the league since the start of October - securing what was according to Phil Wickwar, "a very important three points."
And those three points allowed his charges to leapfrog the visitors in a ridiculously congested bottom half of the table in which anybody can seemingly beat anybody else on the day.
Hassocks welcome back the enigmatic Jamie Hillwood into their starting line up and it was he who supplied the first goal, sending in a brilliant low cross from out on the left which was met with an equally brilliant finish by Death who swept home into the top corner.
That was the least Hassocks deserved for making arguably their brightest start to a game since those heady days of August when they were winning and scoring for fun.
James Westlake had hit the bar inside the opening couple of minutes with Liam Benson squandering a good chance from the follow up while Death had a chance minutes after opening the scoring to double the advantage, but his free kick after Westlake was bundled over clipped the wall and fell agonisingly wide.
It was the other Westlake who produced perhaps the best chance of the first half, Lewis sending in a wicked delivery that had Josh Hawkes managed to get more than the faintest of touches on with the goal at his mercy would surely have sent the Robins into the break 2-0 ahead.
Arundel had clearly been read the riot act at half time as they flew out of the blocks in the second half, Harry Russell firing wide with just James Broadbent to beat and then Broadbent producing the save of the afternoon from Barney Boutwood.
With the visitors on top in a second half that continued to ebb and flow despite the heavy rain lashing down, Hassocks threw on Nick Pitcher for the tiring Lewis Westlake and introduced Nathan Miles for Hillwood on the left.
Those changes paid dividends with 10 minutes remaining. Arundel were down to 10 men by that point, Jordan Dudas having been harshly dismissed for a foul on Lewis Westlake and the Robins took advantage of the extra space as Miles weaved his way down the left to centre for Death who was left with the easiest of headers.
Hassocks: Broadbent; Akehurst, Badger, Barnes, Marsh; Hawkes; J Westlake, L Westlake; Hillwood; Benson, Death.
Subs: Miles (Hillwood), Pitcher (L Westlake), Bant, Tighe (unused).
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