Hassocks are finally up and running after recording first league win

Mark Dalgleish
Mark Dalgleish

Hassocks are finally up and running as the Robins got their first win of the season at the fifth time of asking thanks to a 3-1 success away at Arundel.

Phil Johnson netted his first goals since his summer return to the Beacon with a brace and Dan Stokes was the other man on target as a superb Robins display blew away the Mullets.

Hassocks have been threatening a performance like this for time. They've looked good in glimpses in their previous four outings without ever managing to sustain it over the course of 90 minutes, normally due to wastefulness in front of goal or sloppy errors at the back.

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They had to negotiate a difficult start against dangerous opponents at Mill Road - Arundel came into the game unbeaten in the league and with a hugely impressive 4-1 FA Cup win against Chertsey Town to their name - before going onto control proceedings and run out deserved winners.

Last time these two sides met in December, the Mullets left the Beacon 4-0 winners with Hassocks unable to cope with the movement of the Arundel's lively forward players.

It looked like it might be a similar story here in the opening exchanges as the hosts dominated for the first 20 minutes. Hassocks looked nervy and it was only once the excellent Harry Mills and Will Broomfield down the right side of the Robins defence got to grips with their opponents that the Robins began to come into proceedings.

The Robins could've taken the lead at that stage but for a bizarre set of circumstances. Referee Jonathan Wilks had played an excellent advantage, allowing Hassocks to break and when it looked like that advantage had come to nothing as the ball was played back to Daniel Stevens in the Arundel goal, Mr Wilks pulled back play to award the visitors the initial free kick.

That was lucky for Stevens as seconds after Mr Wilks had stopped play, Stevens made a total hash of his clearance, smashing the ball into the back of defender Nathan Foster which resulted in it looping into the back of the net. Unfortunately for Hassocks, they then squandered the opportunity from the resulting free kick.

A few minutes later and the Robins misery at not being 1-0 ahead was compounded as Arundel took the lead. Hassocks failed to deal with a long ball over the top which was flicked on allowing Gray a free run at goal. Alex Harris did manage to save the initial effort but Gray wasn't to be denied and he tucked away the rebound.

A piece of individual brilliance from Harvey Blake nearly dragged Hassocks back into it. Blake embarked on a mazy run from left back which took him past virtually the whole Arundel team to 12 yards out from the Mullets goal where his left footed strike was only kept out by a combination of Stevens' fingertips and the crossbar.

Arundel were just two minutes away from reaching half time with the lead when the Robins equalised. Spencer Slaughter sent a perfect free kick delivery onto the head of Broomfield and his header across goal was met by Johnson who turned the ball in for his 47th Hassocks goal.

Slaughter was again the architect of the Robins second which arrived on the hour mark. This time, the midfielder drove out to the left, riding a couple of challenges along the way before playing the ball into Johnson's feet. Johnson managed to find the onrushing Stoke who, having been told at half time by coach Mark Price that he could be the Robins match winner, duly sent a splendid strike into the top corner.

Jack Wilkins work rate and movement earned him a few half chances as Hassocks went looking for a third to kill the game off with the midfield three of Slaughter, Stokes and Alex Spinks offering great control throughout the second half.

It was a classic Johnson goal that warpped things up with just a minute of normal time remaining. Blake hit a long ball over the top which Johnson's explosive pace took him onto and a brilliant first touch saw him round Stevens to slot home.

Hassocks: Harris; Mills, Broomfield, Badger, Blake; Spinks, Slaughter, Stokes; Wilkins, Benson, Johnson.

Subs: Lindsey (Johnson).