Wick & Barnham United 0, Hassocks 1: Robins get job done in must-win game

Michael Death celebrates. Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151118-082842001
Michael Death celebrates. Hassocks FC V Littlehampton FC (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151118-082842001

This was a must win game for Hassocks as they got the job done thanks to Michael Death’s late strike that secured a 1-0 victory at Wick & Barnham United.

The Robins arrived at Crabtree Park without a win in the previous 10 games - their worst run of form in over a decade - to take on hosts that before the encounter sat just one place and two points better off at the wrong end of the Premier Division table.

Playing a large part in that disappointing league position has been the number of goals Hassocks have conceded so the fact they managed to keep a first clean sheet in 22 attempts would no doubt have been the most pleasing aspect of a welcome three points.

Alex Harris in the visitors goal was hardly troubled throughout the 90 minutes with Wick’s best chance coming straight from kick off as some sluggish defending allowed them to make ground quickly on the Hassocks goal only to spurn the opportunity.

Death set the tone for what was arguably his best performance in a Hassocks shirt to date with 10 minutes played when he nonchalantly scoop turned the ball around a defender and hit a decent effort from distance that flew just wide.

The Robins did have the ball in the net with a quarter of an hour played, Spencer Slaughter tapping the ball neatly into the opposite corner only to see the goal chalked off for an offside decision against James Westlake.

And just before the break the easiest chance you will see all season was squandered, a free kick from 30 yards being spilled by the home goalkeeper straight to the feet of Nick Pitcher who with an open goal to aim at from a matter of yards somehow defied all known laws of physics and gravity to send the ball over the bar.

It was another slow start to the second half from Hassocks with Harris displaying excellent handling to keep Wick at bay in the first action of note after the break.

Things then tailed off before Death had two good opportunities before netting the winner, firstly when he was released by Jonno Melia only to see his chipped effort float over and then when Bradley Bant worked himself some space out on the left with Death’s effort looping up and over again in the wind.

Third time lucky it was then for the striker as some good football across the park eventually presented him with the opportunity which he duly took this time, lashing home with a just a couple of minutes remaining to secure the much needed three points and end that unwanted record of games without a victory.

Hassocks: Harris; Barnes, Marsh, Pitcher, Akehurst; Westlake, Hawkes, Slaughter, Bant; Death, Melia.

Subs: Hillwood (Slaughter), Wallis (Pitcher), Stokes (Death), Jacques, R Wickwar (unused).

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