Teenage striker Lindsey helps secure vital point

Hassocks skipper Jordan Badger in action against Littlehampton on Saturday. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Hassocks skipper Jordan Badger in action against Littlehampton on Saturday. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Jake Lindsey is turning out to be quite the find for Hassocks.

The teenage striker netted his third goal in five starts since his elevation from the Robins youth team on Tuesday night to ensure that his side left Crawley Down Gatwick with a share of the spoils.

This 1-1 draw made it five points out of a possible 12, a haul that has kept Hassocks in touch with the sides above them just outside the relegation zone and Lindsey has played a part in all of them; equalising just before half time at the Haven, netting the opener in the 2-0 win over Littlehampton Town three days previously and scoring an 88th minute leveller against East Preston four game ago.

"Another precious point," was how Phil Wickwar described it afterwards. "We've played better football at times but we displayed fantastic character to come away from a difficult place with something to show for our efforts."

The Haven is one of the tougher venues to go in the Southern Combination League's Premier Division. Down have lost only once at home so far this season and have taken points off of title challengers Chichester City, Haywards Heath Town and Peacehaven & Telscombe so this looked on that basis at least an onuous task for the Robins.

They didn't get off to the best of starts either, going behind as early as the sixth minute in all too familiar fashion. A Down corner wasn't dealt with convincingly and Hassocks' attempt at a scuffed clearance only presented Johden De Meyer with the chance to fire home for 1-0.

The Robins early elimination from most of the cup competitions this season meant that this was the first time they'd been asked to play Saturday-Tuesday since October and you could tell they aren't used to the demands of two games in a week as it was a leggy opening 30 minutes for a side who appeared to be feeling for the effects of the effort that went into their weekend win.

There were after all only two changes to their starting line up and both of those came in defence, youth team left back Ben O'Leary being handed his second senior start along with a recall for Josh Tuck as Bradley Bant and Will Broomfield moved forwards into midfield to replace the unavailable duo of Dan Stokes and Matt Berridge.

The heavy pitch, which only passed an inspection on the afternoon of the game, didn't help either and the Robins were indebted to Kingston Haigh for ensuring they didn't slip further behind midway through the first half when he made a superb one handed tip around the post from Sam Cane.

Lindsey's goal arrived three minutes before half time, a deft header from a brilliant inswinging free kick from Michael Death. While Hassocks have conceded too many goals from set pieces to count over the last few seasons, it was pleasing to see them score from one at the other end and the quality of Death's delivery cannot be overstated.

In fact, Death was having one of his all-round good evenings. He led the line superbly and linked up well with Lindsey who was a real outlet throughout for the Robins, the duo drawing special praise afterwards from Wickwar along with Jordan Badger and Tuck who the Hassocks joint boss described as "outstanding."

Tuck and Badger will certainly have busier games over the Robins remaining 11 fixtures as the second half of this one was pretty nondescript, both teams doing plenty of huffing and puffing but with very little in the way of quality football on show, leaving the draw a fair result come the final whistle.

Hassocks: Kingston; Maskell, Badger, Tuck, O'Leary; Bant, Broomfield, Mills, Lindsey; Death, Wilkins.

Subs: Atherton (Wilkins), Dimelow, Turner, Bradley, Wickwar (unused).