Hassocks break their Loxwood hoodoo with convincing victory

Action from Saturday's game. Picture by Liz Pearce
Action from Saturday's game. Picture by Liz Pearce

Since their promotion to the Southern Combination League Premier Division in 2014, Loxwood have proven to be the most difficult of opponents for Hassocks.

In eight previous meetings between the two, the Robins had never won and only had two points to show for their efforts against the Magpies thanks to a couple of 1-1 draws back when Loxwood were in their first season in the top flight.

Action from Saturday's game. Picture by Liz Pearce

Action from Saturday's game. Picture by Liz Pearce

That barren run of form ended at Plaistow Road and in quite spectacular fashion too as Hassocks ran out convincing 4-0 winners.

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The Robins had put on an outstanding second half of football in their midweek Peter Bentley League Cup comeback win over Bexhill United and it was a similar story here as three second half goals added to Liam Benson's first half opener to secure their biggest win in nearly two years.

Mark Dalgleish made two changes to the side that had beaten the Pirates. Will Broomfield took the place of unavailable captain Jordan Badger which necessitated a move to left back for Dan Jacques and Alex Spinks returned at the expense of Ryan Collins who dropped to the bench.

In Badger's absence, Phil Johnson captained Hassocks for the first time and although he marked the occasion with two goals and another man-of-the-match showing, Johnson was keen to point out that this was a real team effort.

"It was a great team performance and everyone is working really hard for each other all over the pitch," Johnson said afterwards.

"The back four and Josh in goal in particular were excellent and they thoroughly deserved their clean sheet. There's a good vibe in the dressing room at the moment and we're all looking forward to the next game as we're enjoying our football."

The Robins faithful are enjoying it too. They saw their side take the lead after some good build up play put Matt Berridge into a shooting position and although the post denied him what would have been his first senior goal, Liam Benson did what all good strikers do and followed up to sniff out the rebound and scramble it over the line.

Loxwood began the second half the brighter of the two sides, bombarding the Hassocks goal with crosses and corners but as Johnson highlighted, Josh Green put on a real show of confident goalkeeping in claiming everything that came into his box.

It wasn't just with his dominance that Green impressed. He also made a couple of crucial saves late on to prevent what might otherwise have become a nervy last 10 minutes and Dalgleish now has a real selection dilemma on his hands with Alex Harris set to be available after completing his three game ban against East Preston on Tuesday night.

Thanks to Green's excellence and the efforts of Jacques, Broomfield, Harry Mills and Harvey Blake, Hassocks withstood that 10 minutes of relentless pressure before hitting Loxwood with a sweeping counter attack move.

One minute the ball was in the Hassocks box and the next Johnson was skipping past Josh Courtney and cutting the ball back to the far post where Spencer Slaughter was arriving for a tap in.

That seemed to break the Magpies' spirit somewhat and 11 minutes later Johnson notched his first of the afternoon, cutting inside from way out on the touch line and hitting one from distance which picked up a slight deflection on the way through to beat home goalkeeper Liam Matthews.

Johnson's second was a goal of the highest quality as he powered past former Hassocks favourite Eddie French and then breezed past French's defensive partner Ollie Joels to slot past the advancing Matthews with 15 minutes remaining.

Hassocks: Green; Blake, Broomfield, Mills, Jacques; Berridge, Spinks, Slaughter; Littlejohn, Benson, Johnson.

Subs: Lindsey (Littlejohn), Bull (Benson), Collins (Berridge), Galbraith-Gibbons, Wickwar (unused).