Hassocks finally pick up a point against bogey side Pagham

Action from Pagham v Hassocks. Picture by Roger Smith
Action from Pagham v Hassocks. Picture by Roger Smith

Excitement may have been thin on the ground at Nyetimber Lane but that won't bother Hassocks too much as they finally took a point off bogey side Pagham in a 0-0 draw.

You had to go back to the days when Hassocks were regular challenges for a top five spot to find the last time they avoided defeat against the Lions, a 6-1 victory back in February 2014 for Mickey Jewell's side .

Action from Pagham v Hassocks. Picture by Roger Smith

Action from Pagham v Hassocks. Picture by Roger Smith

Since then, Pagham have racked up six victories out of six in the fixture, scoring 17 times along the way.

Ashley Marsh was the only member of the Hassocks XI on show here to have played in that win three and a half years ago, having been recalled to the starting line up thanks in part to an injury crisis in defence.

The Robins were without the centre back partnership that had done so well to frustrate Hastings United in midweek with Josh Tuck out injured and Will Broomfield unavailable.

In then came Marsh and Luke Akehurst and they were superb all afternoon, particularly in keeping quiet Pagham's prolific striker Danny Simmonds, who came into the game with five goals in three games since returning to the club from Bostik League side Shoreham.

Action from Pagham v Hassocks. Picture by Roger Smith

Action from Pagham v Hassocks. Picture by Roger Smith

"That was probably our best defensive display of the season," Phil Wickwar said afterwards. "To get a clean sheet was excellent and our man-of-the-match could've gone to any one of Marshy, Akehurst, or the full backs Tom Barnes and Jordan Badger, not to mention young Nathan Stroomberg in goal who made one brilliant save right at the death."

"We created three real opportunities in the second half and really we should be scoring those. Having said that, the draw was probably the right result and we definitely seem to be heading in the right direction now."

Wickwar had little to say on the first half action which was hardly surprising as it was enough to bore an insomniac to sleep. Neither team fashioned any opportunity of note, with Pagham being the slightly superior side.

But they weren't able to find their way past a well organised Robins side who set up in two banks of four, their organisation certainly being of higher quality than their use of the ball in the opening 45 which Wickwar decried as "sloppy".

"We made a small tactical adjustment at half time and that allowed us to be the better side, certainly in terms of keeping possession and making chances."

Charlie Pitcher had two of those second half chances but both times he saw his efforts saved by James Binfield when he really should have done better having been played in by first James Westlake and then Michael Death.

The third opportunity fell to Liam Benson who used his fresh legs to outstrip Daryl Woolers but he couldn't find a way past Binfield either.

You couldn't accuse Hassocks of not wanting the win as they boldly threw Jake Lindsey into the attack but the last and arguably best chance of the match fell to Pagham right at the death.

This was a good game for goalkeepers to showcase their skills and although Binfield had certainly been the busier of the two custodians on show in the second half, it was Stroomberg who produced the save of the game with three minutes remaining to ensure Hassocks ended their Pagham hoodoo.

Hassocks: Stroomberg; Barnes, Akehurst, Marsh, Badger; Benson, L Westlake, J Westlake, Bant; Pitcher, Death.

Subs: Lindsey (Benson), Dawson, Rowe, Wickwar (unused).