Hassocks beaten by clinical Little Common
Hassocks were unable to surprise the surprise package of the SCFL Premier Division season so far as high-flying Little Common left the Beacon with a routine 3-0 victory.
When the fixtures came out back in July, the Robins would have marked Little Common at home as one of their more realistic opportunities to get points on the board in a tough opening 10 games which included the likes of Saltdean United, Eastbourne Town, Newhaven and Peacehaven & Telscombe.
How wrong could you be? Common arrived in Mid Sussex above all those clubs in the table, sitting pretty in third place and as one of only two sides to have beaten early leaders Pagham. Not just beaten, but hammered 4-0 on the Lions’ own Nyetimber Lane ground.
Whereas Common are flying, Hassocks are struggling. The Robins’ previous two games had seen five goals fly into their net in the space of 72 hours with only one in reply - and that was a gift of a penalty from Division One outfit Roffey in the final minutes of a chastening 5-1 Peter Bentley Cup second round exit.
Hassocks created chances on Tuesday night, they just struggled to take them. It was a similar story against Common, Joe Bull missing an early opportunity which, had it hit the back of Matt Cruttwell’s net, might have led to a different game than the one that the Beacon faithful were treated to.
Bull has been a lively presence leading the line in the past three games. He works hard, is an intelligent footballer and makes things happen.
All that is missing form his game is a goal; Hassocks will be hoping that it is one of those where once he gets the monkey of a first of the season off his back, he will hit a run of scoring form.
Hassocks’ cause against Common was not helped by the absence of Josh Short, arguably their star performer of the campaign so far.
Short’s spot in midfield was taken by Jack Baden, one of five changes from the Roffey defeat.
Alex Harris returned in goal in place of Jacob Campbell, George Mitchell-Phillips was promoted to the starting XI after scoring the penalty on Tuesday night to partner Bull in attack and Bradley Tighe and Wes Tighe took over in defence from Jordan Badger and Jack Gardner.
This was the first time that the Tighes had lined up together in senior football.
The touching message posted by older brother Brad on social media afterwards saying their grandad would have been proud served as a reminder that whilst results may not be going Hassocks’ way currently, they remain a family club.
Common rattled the post prior to Bull’s early chance after Jack McLean teed up Lewis Hole, his first time effort cannoning back into the grateful arms of Harris.
The deadlock was broken with 33 minutes played. Common sliced their way through Hassocks with a pleasing passing move.
Harris managed to keep out McLean’s right footed effort, but the loose ball went straight to Matt MacLean who headed home.
Hassocks had been completely undone when Newhaven came to the Beacon seven days earlier by conceding four goals in quick succession.
The Robins must have known that if they were to have any chance of finding a way back into this one, they could not afford for one to quickly turn into two.
Sadly, that is exactly what happened as within five minutes, Common doubled their advantage.
McLean was again the man on target with a goal vastly different to his first.
Whereas that one involved being in the right place at the right time, McLean showed his quality for his second of the afternoon by leading Wes Tighe on a merry dance before riffling an effort across Harris and in.
Common started the second half where they had left off the first and within three minutes of the restart, they had their killer third.
Another neat move led to Sammy Bunn producing a deft flick into the path of Hole who slotted past Harris.
With 42 minutes still to play, the home support could have been forgiven for fearing that another big defeat was on the cards.
Hassocks did at least dig in and prevent any more damage being done to the scoreboard. McLean and MacLean both went close and Common player-manager Russell Eldridge saw an effort from a corner heroically deflected behind by Bradley Tighe.
The closest that the Robins came was when a free kick was swung over and substitute Badger put a trademark towering header against the Common crossbar.
Things do not get any easier got Hassocks. They hit the road in a week’s time to Littlehampton Town, one of only two teams above Common in the table and who have plundered 26 goals in seven matches. It could be a long afternoon at the Sportsfield.