Hassocks’ inability to complete the task of scoring a penalty once again came back to haunt them in a 2-1 defeat away at Arundel.
The Robins have now missed the last three spot kicks they have been awarded stretching back into last season.
Nick Pitcher started the rot when his effort posed more danger to the Hubble Space Telescope than the goal away at Broadbridge Heath in March although that was quickly forgotten as Hassocks went onto pick up a vital three points in their battle to avoid relegation.
Luke Akehurst’s saved effort away at AFC Uckfield Town five games ago proved more costly in a 2-1 defeat and it was a similar story here with Michael Death missing in circumstances that would have been quite comical had the end result not been so disastrous.
22 minutes had passed with the Robins in the lead and on top against opponents who hadn’t won in the league since the second round of games back in August when referee Theo Parfitt pointed to the spot to offer a golden opportunity to double the advantage.
Death had been on the end of a volley of abuse from the home support before that and in a misguided attempt to show them up, attempted to “Pirlo” his penalty by chipping it straight down the middle after the goalkeeper had dived the wrong way.
This is a great club that deserves more than we are giving at the minute. We pushed for an equaliser but it just wasn’t to be todayPhil Wickwar
Well the first part certainly worked but the second was a total disaster, the ball being sent three feet over the bar with the keeper lying helpless on the floor much to the delight of the Arundel fans.
Death was man enough to admit afterwards that a player of his experience should have known better and he was clearly gutted about the whole debacle but the Robins know they are lucky to have a player of his talents in their squad and he will ultimately win them more points this season than he costs.
Nathan Miles had marked his return to the first team after missing the last three games by opening the scoring with just three minutes on the clock, racing clear of the defence to latch onto Death’s pass and finish neatly in the corner.
It took just four minutes after the penalty miss for Arundel to make Hassocks pay, Max Thomas finishing from the edge of the box after an initial effort had been superbly blocked by Bradley Tighe.
The winning goal arrived right on the stroke of half time, Ryan Peake rising to produce a powerful header from that old Achilles heel of Hassocks defending, the corner.
The second half offered little in the way of action other than George Willett making a few smart saves to keep the Robins in the game but with a side that was once again devoid of first choice players Arundel saw things out quite comfortable.
Availability - or lack of it - has really hit Hassocks hard so far this season and that was something Phil Wickwar picked up on at the end, saying, “It could be a long winter if we can’t get more commitment from the players we have and it is as simple as that.”
“This is a great club that deserves more than we are giving at the minute. We pushed for an equaliser but it just wasn’t to be today.”
Dan Jacques, Tom Barnes, Ashley Marsh, Spencer Slaughter, Nick Pitcher, Mark Price and Phil Gault were among the missing which meant a first appearance of the season at left back for Luke Pawson and two under 21s - Jake Booth and Jordan Millis - and one youth team player in Jack Wilkins being used from the bench.
Hassocks: George Willett; Bradley Tighe, Luke Akehurst, Rowan Wallis, Luke Pawson; Dan Stokes, Josh Hawkes, Bradley Bant, Jonno Melia; Michael Death, Nathan Miles.
Subs: Jordan Millis, Jake Booth, Jack Wilkins (used).
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