Hassocks win successive games 1-0 for first time since 2012

Hassocks started the new year as they had ended the old by putting three points on the board with a gritty 1-0 win.

Their final opponents of 2018 were Shoreham and just what a good three points that was at Middle Road was highlighted by the fact that this week, the Musselmen went and won 1-0 away at second place

Phil Johnson scored the winner

Phil Johnson scored the winner

The Robins’ first opponents of 2019 were East Preston and Hassocks had to show all their battling qualities at the Beacon against Bob Paine’s talented young side to grind out another victory with a clean sheet to boot.

You have to go back nearly seven years to February 2012 to find the last time Hassocks managed back-to-back 1-0 wins, Phil Gault securing success against Sidley United and Chris Maynard doing likewise a week later against Shoreham.

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This time, it was Liam Benson who won the three points against Shoreham and Phil Johnson who provided the only goal of the game here against EP.

Johnson struck for the 16th time this season 10 minutes before half time, the least that the Robins deserved for a first half in which they were the dominant side.

Bradley Tighe’s decision to take a quick throw out on the right looked to be a questionable one when it looked to have been cut out by Lewis Jenkins.

The EP defender’s clearance was a poor one though and he only succeeded in giving the ball to James Littlejohn who burst forward at speed before fizzing in a low cross.

Johnson meanwhile had timed his run to perfection, arriving front and centre of the goal and using his knee in a brilliant piece of improvisation to send the ball past George Bentley in the visitor’s goal.

Hassocks had fashioned other opportunities to take the lead before that, most notably when hitting a post in the 20th minute as they gave another encouraging display of attacking football.

That was despite several notable absentees. Spencer Slaughter and Harry Mills were both suspended, captain Jordan Badger was unavailable due to work commitments and Jake Lindsey fell ill in the lead up to the game.

Mark Dalgleish recalled November’s Player of the Month Harvey Enticknap and he rewarded the manager’s faith with a man-of-the-match showing in the midfield engine room alongside debutant Scott Kirkwood.

The former Burgess Hill Town favourite arrived in midweek from Shoreham and his signing is something of a coup for the Robins given that there will be other Premier Division clubs with bigger budgets who would surely love to have a player of his considerable talents.

Kirkwood showed glimpses of those talents, driving his new side on and there will no doubt be more to come once he gets fully match fit, this being his first competitive action since his last appearance for Shoreham five weeks previously.

Littlejohn and Dan Jacques were the other beneficiaries of the absentees and both did their claims for more regular involvement no harm in what is a hectic 10 days in which they play three home games.

EP emerged for the second half clearly fired up and it took an excellent save from Josh Green to deny Dan Huet just four minutes after the restart.

Yet for all their pressure, they never really managed to find a way past the Robins backline of Tighe, Jacques, Will Broomfield and Harvey Blake who did an admirable job out of position at left back in the absence of Badger.

The closest they came was when Luke Brodie fired just over in a melee from a corner.

Hassocks really should have put the game to bed, using Johnson and Littlejohn’s pace on the counter to good effect, but they couldn’t quite find the second goal with both Benson and Johnson missing good opportunities.

Hassocks: Green; Tighe, Jacques, Broomfield, Badger; Enticknap, Kirkwood, Bull; Littlejohn, Johnson, Benson.