The comeback kings met the draw specialists as Hassocks took on Langney Wanderers and, unsurprisingly, there was a come-from-behind draw at Priory Lane.
In this first ever competitive meeting between the two sides, Wanderers sauntered into a two-goal lead inside of 20 minutes, only for Hassocks to end up leaving Eastbourne with a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw.For the Robins, that made it three games out of the last five in which they’ve rallied from being two behind to claim something. For Langney, it was a fifth draw in the opening nine games of their first ever season of Premier Division football.
While the Hassocks coaching staff weren’t too impressed with the performance afterwards, they were certainly happy with the resilience shown again.
“Getting an away point on the board from such a poor performance shows how far we have come from last season,” Spencer Slaughter said afterwards.
“It shows the togetherness of this group of players; that when things aren’t working, our hard work and perseverance gets us through.”
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Slaughter felt that Hassocks looked slow and lethargic in the warm up and that translated into the opening 20 minutes of the game in which they found themselves 2-0 behind.
Lucas Mann opened the scoring for Wanderers with nine minutes on the clock, getting the deftest of touches onto Max Holloborne’s delivery to turn the ball in at the far post.
Josh Green pulled off a stunning save to somehow keep out Adam Davidson’s bullet but Wanderers weren’t to be denied their second for long, Gary Ingram doubling the advantage with 19 played as he picked up a Billy Pout pass and cut inside his man to fire home.
That belatedly stirred Hassocks into life and Phil Johnson soon headed them back into the game. It was a brilliant ball in from out on the right that led to the goal, Stokes whipping in a cross that the Robins’ talismanic forward to rose to meet with a precision header.
They still weren’t quite at the races for the remainder of the first half and Langney nearly added a third, Gary Ingram seeing an effort beaten away by Green and then another Davidson header was scrambled off the line.
Whatever was said at the interval clearly had a galvanising effect and Hassocks began the second half the better side, forcing Dan Hutchins in the Langney goal into a couple of routine saves.
Mark Dalgleish shuffled his pack, throwing on striker James Littlejohn in place of left back Joe Bull. That move saw Harvey Blake shift across to take up Bull’s position with Stokes dropping in at right back in place of Blake.
It was end-to-end from that point on and either side could’ve scored. Green blocked an effort from Paul Weatherby but nobody in white could get to the rebound in time and then Davidson received a yellow card when he tripped Johnson as the Hassocks striker looked to make a break for goal.
That was in the 81st minute and seven minutes later, Davidson was heading for an early bath. Benson was the man who was tripped this time, leaving Langney to try and see out the remaining two minutes plus injury time with only 10 men.
More pertinently, Davidson’s indiscretion left Hassocks with a free kick right on the edge of the box. There was some kerfuffle over who should take it with Littlejohn and the excellent Jake Lindsey consulted before it was decided that Slaughter was the man to step up.
This proved to be a wise decision as Slaughter bent an exquisite effort over the wall which drew a stunning save from Hutchins.
Hassocks captain Jordan Badger had anticipated that however and was in exactly the right place at the right time to head home the rebound for the equaliser.
“Spencer told me he was going to hit top bins so I positioned myself just outside the post in anticipation of a tap in,” Badger revealed.
“He hit the ball sweet, the keepers made a great save and I managed to get a good connection on the loose ball to lift it over him.”
“That’s my first goal of the season and it was great to get off the mark with such an important one. It’s an area of my game I’m looking to improve to contribute more as captain.”
It was certainly a telling contribution on this occasion, extending Hassocks’ unbeaten streak to five games – their best such run of form for over a year.
Hassocks: Green; Blake, Badger, Jacques, Bull; Stokes, Slaughter, Berridge; Benson, Johnson, Lindsey.
Subs: Littlejohn (Bull), Enticknap (Berridge)