Hassocks show Mr Hyde as Slaughter goal beats Newhaven

Spencer Slaughter
Spencer Slaughter

After a couple of weeks of Dr Jekyll performances, Hassocks gave a Mr Hyde showing as they picked up a 1-0 win away at title chasing Newhaven.

The Robins have long been compared to the titular character from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel for their ability to go from being absolutely shocking one game to outrageously good the next.

This victory against the Dockers was the latest case in point.

Hassocks arrived at the Trafalgar Ground having drawn 3-3 with second-bottom Loxwood and lost 2-0 to third-bottom Arundel in the past three weeks.

They were facing a Newhaven side who had won 13 of their previous 16 Premier Division games and history was also firmly against the Robins, with no Hassocks side having ever won a game of senior football at Fort Road.

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Spencer Slaughter’s goal right on the stroke of half time changed all that though, delivering a 1-0 victory that the defensive efforts of the Robins more than deserved.

In fairness to Hassocks, they had been excellent in the second half of that thrilling draw with Loxwood, wrestling back from 3-0 down at the break to claim a point.

That comeback had been sparked by a treble half time substitution from Mark Dalgleish and he rewarded two of those replacements with promotion to the starting 11, goal scorer Slaughter replacing Dan Jacques with Harry Mills dropping in at centre half and Dan Stokes taking the place of Jake Lindsey.

Hassocks set their stall out early, lining up in two banks of four which was clearly designed to frustrate this talented Newhaven side, whilst looking to use the pace of Phil Johnson on the counter.

That game plan looked like it might have been left in tatters when Johnson was forced off with injury early on, former Woking man George Brown replacing Johnson in attack.

But Brown proved to be a more than adequate substitute for the Hassocks skipper, even if his own afternoon was also curtailed prematurely after an unnecessary red card after he’d kicked the ball away when already on a yellow.

Brown was involved in the only goal of the game which arrived just 60 seconds before the break.

He linked up well with Harvey Enticknap down the right before digging out a cross to the back post.

That was met by Slaughter who beat Freddie Beale in the air to send a header past Jake Buss in the Dockers goal for his fifth of the season.

Hassocks had done plenty of honest defending before that, Broomfield and Mills in particular excelling to restrict Newhaven’s deadly 55-goal top scorer Lee Robinson to mainly pot shots from outside the box.

On the rare occasions that the Dockers did break through, they found Josh Green in inspired form.

The Robins goalkeeper picked a good day to give arguably his best performance of the season.

There were three vital saves late on with a flying stop that defied gravity from Kyle Woolven being the pick of the bunch.

Newhaven had a second half penalty appeal turned down after Beale was felled in the box by Slaughter but despite the vehement protests of the home faithful, referee Chris Britton waved play on. It was the right decision.

Before Brown’s silly dismissal, Newhaven looked particularly uncomfortable dealing with the probing runs of Bradley Tighe and Harvey Blake from the full back

positions, who were bombing on at most opportunities in spite of Hassocks’ cautious approach.

Once the Robins went down to 10, the work rate of Liam Benson became pivotal to them holding onto their lead as he ploughed a lonely furrow up front.

Slaughter and Enticknap meanwhile continued to dominate in midfield despite the numerical disadvantage with Slaughter’s vocal encouragement in particular driving his side on to this most unlikely of three points.

Slaughter said afterwards, “It was a superb display from everyone involved today.”

“Our shape was fantastic, it was a proper old-school Hassocks workmanlike performance and we were brilliant breaking forward on the counter to cause one of the best teams in the league real problems.”

Hassocks will hope to see Mr Hyde on a few more occasions over their remaining 10 games.

Hassocks: Green; Tighe, Mills, Broomfield, Blake; Stokes, Slaughter, Enticknap, Bull; Benson, Johnson.

Subs: Brown (Johnson), Lindsey, Littlejohn, Jacques (unused).

Starman: Harvey Enticknap.