Hassocks strike late to edge past nine-man Alfold in thriller

Where do you even begin with what happened between Hassocks and Alfold at the Beacon?

Monday, 15th November 2021, 3:39 pm
Updated Monday, 15th November 2021, 3:40 pm
Phil Gault struck at the death for Hassocks in their 2-1 win over Alfold. Picture by Phil Westlake

Two red cards for the visitors, Hassocks losing three players to injury and then a penalty in the final seconds from Phil Gault saved, retaken and scored at the second attempt ended up earning the Robins a much-needed 2-1 victory on a day of ridiculous drama.

The first of those injuries arrived before the game had even kicked off, Hassocks losing top scorer Alfie Loversidge in the warm up.

His place was taken by youth team winger Louis Thwaites, thrust in for a full debut. Surprisingly, Hassocks were not at all impacted by the disruption as they flew out of the traps, taking the lead with only two minutes on the clock.

For the second game running following the 5-0 midweek win over Montpelier Villa, Lewis Westlake scored a superb effort from distance after pressing a roll out from Alfold goalkeeper Andrew Osei and chipping in from 24 yards.

Unfortunately for Westlake, that was the end of his afternoon as he left proceedings minutes later as the Robins’ second injury.

Lucas Tyrrell then joined him after a nasty collision with Osei. Both players were entitled to go for the ball, it was just unfortunate that Tyrrell came off worse and had to be helped from the field.

Jordan Badger and Josh Hawkes are both feeling their way back to match fitness, so they probably could have done without playing for well over an hour once Westlake and Tyrrell departed.

Hassocks did well to cope with the chaos in their ranks and although they struggled to create too many first half opportunities, they crucially kept Alfold at bay for the most part.

On the one occasion where the visitors had a sight of goal, Alex Harris pulled off one of the best saves the Beacon has seen for a very long time.

It looked to all the world like Sam Lemon was going to score from point blank range but somehow, Harris managed to stick out a strong hand and turn the effort over the bar.

The second half took a while to heat up, sparking into life when Alfold equalised with 63 minutes on the clock. It was an excellent goal from Lemon, cutting inside from the left channel and bending a sweet effort into the top corner.

That led to a brief period of Alfold domination, during which the visitors looked the most likely winners. Hassocks were again indebted to Harris when he pushed another effort from close range over the bar, this time from Kelvin Lucas.

Harris’ heroics suddenly seemed to inspire the Robins and they ended the game back on top, led by the driving runs of Jack Troak who had taken over from the hard working Thwaites.

Osei was called into action when he managed to get his leg onto Josh Short’s effort from six yards out, just doing enough to see the ball trickle wide of the post after good link up between Gault and James Westlake.

Alfold were reduced to 10 men when Mitch Clark made a lazy trip on Short in the middle of the park to pick up a second booking.

Dan Turner then met a beautiful free kick delivered into the box from out wide with a towering header which beat Osei.

Not one Alfold player appealed for offside as Turner had come from at least 10 yards on. The linesman though concluded that somebody in red had strayed and so the goal was controversially chalked off.

The game was by now entering its final five minutes and it looked like Hassocks’ chance of winning it had gone. Alfold were content to sit back and take a point, as you might expect given their numerical disadvantage and that they are in the midst of a poor run of form.

Short though had other ideas and in the fourth minute of time added on, he embarked on a mesmerising run, jinking past three players and into the penalty area.

Osei came charging off his line and unlike that first half challenge on Tyrrell, got his timing all wrong as he completely missed the ball and wiped Short out.

A penalty was the only outcome but Osei redeemed himself with a superb full length save to his left to push Gault’s spot kick onto the post.

The linesman who had spotted that offside which nobody else witnessed minutes earlier this time saw that Osei had left his line to make the stop and so Gault was given a second bite of the cherry.

A deathly hush descended from everyone except Osei, who did his best to put Gault off. The veteran was not going to make the same mistake twice however and he scored with the last kick of the game to give Hassocks back-to-back wins for the first time under Brad Sweetman.

Whilst the Robins players celebrated with their young supporters behind the goal, Osei managed to talk himself into a red card for dissent after the full time whistle for continuing his protest against the retake far too vehemently for referee Joshua Langley-Fineing’s liking.

Hassocks host Pagham tomorrow (Tuesday)