Hassocks enjoy their London Bus moment when they make it two wins in four days

Action from AFC Uckfield v Hassocks. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Action from AFC Uckfield v Hassocks. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

After nine defeats in a row, Hassocks had their proverbial London Bus moment as they won for the second time in four days with a 4-1 success away at AFC Uckfield Town, writes Scott McCarthy.

That they secured their first back to back wins of the campaign at the Oaks was particularly sweet for the Robins; it was here five weeks ago in the Peter Bentley League Cup that they surrendered a 2-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining to lose 4-2 for loss number two of the sequence.

Action from AFC Uckfield v Hassocks. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Action from AFC Uckfield v Hassocks. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Blowing that advantage proved to be a big psychological blow and Hassocks had looked bereft of confidence from that point right up until their excellent 1-0 success at Eastbourne United Association on Tuesday.

That victory was built on a magnificent defensive display and against AFC Uckfield they were again solid defensively while also taking their chances at the other end through Spencer Slaughter, Lewis Westlake and a Liam Benson brace.

The showing of the back five was particularly impressive given it came without first choice goalkeeper Nathan Stroomberg along with Ashley Marsh, Luke Akehurst, Will Broomfield and Joe Maskell.

Alex Harris returned in goal for his first appearance since the second league game of the campaign against one of his former clubs while the Robins gave debuts to new signings Josh Tuck from Lewes and Alex Dawson, playing his first game of competitive football in eight months.

Action from AFC Uckfield v Hassocks. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Action from AFC Uckfield v Hassocks. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Dawson in particular looks quite the capture. He moved to Sussex recently and contacted the club asking if it would be possible to get involved as he "couldn't take another weekend on the sofa watching Soccer Saturday."

Having spent the last 10 years playing in the Evo-Stik League with Newcastle Town, Nantwich Town and Norton United - with whom he reached the first round of the FA Cup in 2014 - the Robins were only too happy to help him replace Saturday's with Jeff and the Boys with Saturday's with Michael Death and the Boys.

Dawson probably didn't expect to be thrown straight into the starting line-up after just one training session but Mark Dalgleish and Phil Wickwar's decision to do so was vindicated within 12 minutes as he set up Benson for the Robins opener.

Benson had already had a good opportunity inside of five minutes but an unnecessary extra touch saw the ball run away from him as he confronted Matthew Dann in the Uckfield goal.

Action from AFC Uckfield v Hassocks. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Action from AFC Uckfield v Hassocks. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

He made no mistake second time around however, finishing Dawson's cross neatly after the debutant had been sent away down the right by a fantastic ball from Slaughter.

Hassocks' second arrived on 28 minutes and although it was awarded to Lewis Westlake, a dubious goals panel would've had a strong case for putting it down as an own goal after Dann got in a right mess when attempting to deal with Westlake's corner, only succeeding in palming the ball in.

The second half was less than 90 seconds old when Hassocks made it three, centre back Jordan Badger finding himself in the unusual position of delivering a cross which he did quite brilliantly to find Slaughter lurking with intent to produce an equally good side foot volley finish.

With the game all but won and an intense and frankly ridiculous schedule of eight games out of 10 on the road, Hassocks took the chance to change things up by making three substitutions as Jamie Hillwood, Michael Death and Jack Wilkins all got extended game time from the bench.

Tuck was one of those who made way, a decision that seemed surprising until Phil Wickwar revealed afterwards that he'd been playing through a chest infection, a fact that made his debut even more impressive.

Dawson, James Westlake and Phil Gault combined with some lovely football down the right for the Robins fourth which ended when Benson finished Gault's exquisite cross with aplomb.

Harris and his defence were denied a clean sheet in the later stages, Dean Stewart-Hunter embarking on a fine run and finish for an Uckfield consolation.

If there were any doubts or worries among the Hassocks squad that that might have been the start of another Uckfield come back similar to that cup game then the players did well to hide it, comfortably seeing out the remaining eight minutes to climb above their hosts and out of the relegation zone.

Hassocks: Harris; Tuck, Barnes, Badger; Dawson, L Westlake, Slaughter, J Westlake, Bant; Gault, Benson.

Subs: Hillwood, Wilkins, Death (used), P Wickwar (unused).