Loxwood 2, Hassocks 0: Robins brought back down to earth

Phil Wickwar
Phil Wickwar

Four days after shocking leaders Shoreham, Hassocks were brought back down to Earth with a bang as they fell to a 2-0 defeat away at Loxwood.

Perhaps this should have been expected. Hassocks have had a Jekyll and Hyde like quality to them for as long as anyone can remember, a quirky ability to follow up a stunning result and performance with sheer mediocrity.

Throw in the fact that they have never beaten Loxwood before in senior football and all of a sudden, leaving Plaistow Road with nothing to show for their efforts looks entirely predictable.

Phil Wickwar said afterwards that he felt the first goal would be key and Loxwood nearly had it inside of a minute, referee Robert King pointing to the spot after Matt Daniel was hauled over but Ollie Gill saw his penalty brilliantly kept out by James Broadbent.

That set the tone for Broadbent's afternoon, the Robins goalkeeper having an inspired game thereafter which included no less than three more first class stops in what proved to be an intriguing personal battle with the talented Gill.

After weathering an opening 10 minutes which was all Loxwood, James Westlake hit the bar with home goalkeeper Dave Carruthers well beaten and Michael Death forced Carruthers into a fine tip over at full stretch.

Hassocks were incensed just before half time not to be awarded a penalty of their own when James Westlake was bundled over in the box after a barnstorming run in a first half that was otherwise pretty devoid of quality after that frantic start.

In fact, most of the action took place in the centre of the park where former Hassocks youth team captain Adam Williams was having a particularly influential time of it.

Thankfully, the second 45 proved to be a much more entertaining affair. The Robins really should have had that much heralded first goal when Jack Rowe-Hurst rounded Carruthers but somehow contrived to miss the resulting open goal.

James Westlake again went close from distance after that and Gill rattled the bar from a free kick in a dangerous position after a foul from Harry Mills.

Loxwood boss Mark Beard made the bold move of a double attacking substitution just past the hour mark and within six minutes the decision paid off, replacement Ed Davis embarking on a mazy run that led to chaos and confusion in the Hassocks box which fellow substitute Tom Frankland was able to take advantage of to open the scoring.

Hassocks poured forward after that in the hope of securing an equaliser but any hopes that they had of getting back into the tie were dashed when Loxwood added a second 10 minutes from time.

Davis proved to be the architect as once again he drove into the box where he was bought down. This time it was Matt Daniel who stepped up and he left Broadbent with no chance of repeating his heroics from 79 minutes previously with the spot kick being convincingly dispatched into the bottom right corner.

Broadbent would ensure that the score didn't become too embarrassing from a Hassocks point of view as he denied Gill again on two more occasions late on, securing one of the more obvious man of the match awards of the season.

Wickwar had no qualms with the result come the full time whistle, saying, "Loxwood are a good side who probably should be higher in the table based on that evidence."

"They had that final ball and finish which we lacked and ultimately that was the difference between the two. After our efforts against Shoreham we were running on empty a little bit but the players know we just need to keep putting in performances and the results will come."

Hassocks: Broadbent; Akehurst, Barnes, Badger, Marsh; Mills; J Westlake, L Westlake; Rowe-Hurst; Death, Benson.

Subs: Tighe, Stokes, Galbraith-Gibbons (used), Gault, B John (unused).