Wickwar believes long-term future looks good if they can keep hold of talented youngsters

Phil Wickwar
Phil Wickwar

Their immediate future may lie in Division One of the Southern Combination League following yet another defeat, but Hassocks joint boss Phil Wickwar reckons things look good long term for the Robins as long as they can hold onto their talented teenagers.

The Robins played for 70 minutes of their 4-1 defeat at Three Bridges with a midfield consisting of 17-year-old Jake Lindsey, 18-year-old George Galbraith-Gibbons and 19-year-old Matt Berridge, who at times belied their age and lack of experience to give their title chasing hosts somewhat of a fright at times in the second half.

"The performances of the young lads has given us hope today," Wickwar said afterwards. "At times, they outplayed a top side through midfield and it was a joy to watch."

"We need to take that on to the games against sides around us in the table and we can give ourselves a chance of pulling off an escape. I think anyone who watched that game today would agree the scoreline was harsh on us."

Harsh it may have been, but Hassocks didn't help themselves at all by making a terrible start to proceedings at the Jubilee Field as some substandard defending in what was a pretty strong wind saw them go 2-0 down inside of the opening 11 minutes.

The first arrived within five minutes of kick off. Defending a corner seems like a strange time to break into a game of musical statues but that is what Hassocks decided to do, allowing George Gaskin to saunter from the back post into the centre of the goal completely unchecked despite the presence of three Hassocks shirts in the vicinity; from there he had the simple task of directing a free header past Nathan Stroomberg who remained glued to his line.

Bridges second arrived six minutes later. This time, Lewis Westlake made a bit of a hash out of clearing his lines with the ball eventually being worked to right back Liam Collins who delivered a cross from deep.

Again, the Robins marking was non existent and again, Bridges took full advantage as Jensen Grant headed home past Stroomberg's despairing dive.

Westlake was withdrawn shortly after with a hamstring complaint which saw Galbraith-Gibbons introduced. Galbraith-Gibbons first task was to watch Bridges go 3-0 ahead through Gaskin again.

There was an element of fortune about this one, Will Broomfield's attempted block of a shot from former Robin Ben Bacon only succeeded in sending the ball straight into the path of Gaskin but the diminutive striker made no mistake with the opportunity gifted to him as he finished clinically.

Hassocks pulled one back before half time with the goal of the game as they turned defence into attack into a goal in 14 seconds. Stroomberg collected a wasteful delivery into his box, rolling the ball to Berridge.

Right back Joe Maskell had gone rampaging forward and Berridge picked up beautifully with a 50 yard lofted pass which Nathan Simpson completely misjudged.

That left Maskell a clear run towards goal although he still had plenty of do to avoid being wiped out by Simpson who was by now charging back but avoid him Maskell did, steering a low cross across goal to the back post where Michael Death was arriving to tap home.

The goal seemed to inject some confidence and believe into Hassocks and they were the better side in the second half, that young midfield trio stamping their mark on the game along with another teenager in Jack Wilkins who's willing running proved unsettling to the Bridges back line.

There were a couple of chances for Hassocks in that second 45, most notably when Lindsey forced Kieron Thorp in the Bridges goal into tipping one over at full stretch and Jordan Badger advanced from left back only to see his low cross evade a glut of Hassocks bodies in the box.

Bridges added their fourth in stoppage time on the counter, a hopeful smash up the pitch as the hosts attempted to relief some of the pressure they were under resulting in a battle for the ball between Gasking and Spencer Slaughter.

It was a battle that Gaskin won with Slaughter's case not helped by a slip. The Hassocks captain did well to recover and actually came close to nicking the ball off Gaskin before he laid it off to John Lansdale who fired home to complete the scoring.

Hassocks: Stroomberg; Maskell, Slaughter, Broomfield, Badger; Lindsey, Mills, L Westlake, Berridge; Wilkins, Death.

Subs: Galbraith-Gibbons (Westlake)