Hassocks Ladies beat Burgess Hill Town to claim Mid Sussex Trophy

Hassocks Ladies celebrate victory
Hassocks Ladies celebrate victory

The Sussex Women's Challenge Trophy final became the Mid Sussex Trophy final as Burgess Hill Town and Hassocks clashed at Culver Road.

And in a game that more than lived up to the high expectations foisted upon it due to the prestigious silverware on offer and the fact that these two sides are local rivals, it was the Robins who came out on top thanks to a 2-1 victory.

Few in the big crowd gathered at Lancing could argue with the result. After an uncharacteristically shaky start, Hassocks grew into the occasion to come from behind and claim the crown of County Champions for the first time.

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But by the time the full time whistle blew after 90 minutes plus an extraordinary extra 10 for stoppages, the Robins knew they’d been in a game against a hardworking and plucky Hillians outfit who never gave up, leaving the field to a standing ovation of their own.

This won’t be the last time that these two sides will see each other this season and they could quite feasibly end up facing off for two more trophies yet.

Hassocks lead the way at the top of South East Counties League Division One West with an unblemished record of 12 wins from 12 games, but Hill could yet catch them. The Hillians sit 16 points behind but with three games in hand.

The two sides still have to face each other twice, so if Hill can pick up maximum points in those April meetings, the title could yet end up heading for the Green Elephants Stadium rather than the Beacon.

They are also both into the semi finals of the League Cup, where Hassocks will face Saltdean United and Hill Ashford. Two wins for the two Mid Sussex clubs from those two games and there could be another cup final between these two in the offing.

If there is, then it will have to go some way to beat the entertainment served up at County HQ.

Hill took the lead in the 10th minute with a fantastically worked goal involving Ioana Vilciu, Jess Saunders and Jade Chapman.

It was Vilciu who got the move started, playing a clever ball out to Saunders who then dinked an even better pass into the box for Chapman to head past Sarah Chappell and break the deadlock.

This was the first time that Hassocks had fallen behind in a game since their only loss of the season which came in the FA Cup against Islington Borough back in September.

If there were any question marks surrounding how the Robins would react to finding themselves in the unusual situation of trailing, then they were answered pretty quickly as Hassocks began to find their trademark fluency across the park.

On 22 minutes they worked their first real opener, some tidy build up play between Kirsten Mair and Billie Philpott getting Philpott into a good position but the Sussex Rep striker’s cleanly hit effort powered just the wrong side of the post.

That was a warning sign and just past the half hour mark Hassocks were level.

Kelly Rushworth found herself with time and space in the box and she made no mistake, burying the ball into the bottom corner past Casey Dunford in the Hill goal.

Hassocks boss Martin Lee made a change at the break, introducing the experienced Liz King for Emma Young but just as in the first half, it was the Hillians who started the second the brightest.

They had a great chance to retake the lead when Saunders dispossessed Hassocks captain Sam Newman to burst in on goal but her effort dragged just wide of the post.

Hill lost the services of Hayley Nash after a nasty accidental collision with Philpott; Gabriela Bucur entering the fray in place of Nash.

Luckily for Hassocks, Philpott came out of the clash unscathed and ominously for Hill, the Robins 36-goal top scorer then began to impose herself on proceedings.

It was Philpott’s driving run and shot that drew the save of the night from Dunford, who did fantastically to keep out a one-on-one with the Hassocks striker.

There was nothing Dunford could do when the Robins took the lead four minutes later however, Katherine Chappell swinging over a corner which was met by substitute King at the near post with a textbook header.

Hill made two more changes after that with Millie Morley and Charlotte Pollendine coming on but it was Hassocks who finished the stronger and they could and probably should have made the game safe.

Philpott twisted and turned her way beautifully past two defenders before knocking a glorious ball into Mair who could only fire straight into the hands of the grateful Dunford.

Tallie Bright then made way for Jodie Johnason for Hassocks as the game entered that extended period of injury time brought about by Nash’s earlier injury.

And that extra 10 minutes fostered two further chances for Philpott to get her name on the score sheet.

The first came when she decided to go it alone, breaking forward before unleashing a rocket of a shot which Dunford could only watch cannon against the cross bar and away to safety.

The same thing happened again five minutes later, only this time Philpott’s effort was on target and it took a super save from Dunford to keep it out.

That denied Philpott the goal her livewire showing probably deserved but Hassocks couldn’t be denied their first silverware of the season as captain Newman hoisted the first trophy for the Beacon cabinet of the campaign.

Lee and his Robins side will be hoping there will be a couple more pieces joining it yet, although Hill will no doubt have something to say about it in the weeks to come – and based on this, it should be quite the show.

Hassocks: S Chappell, John, Stevens, Newman, Young, Bright, G Craig, K Chappell, Mair, Philpott, Rushworth.

Subs: King (Young 46), Johanson (Bright 90), Larmar, Banitas, Hannes (unused).