There was a distinct end of season feel to Hassocks’ penultimate game of 2015/16 as they put in one of their worst performances of the campaign to fall to a 3-0 defeat away at Worthing United.
Again Hassocks had a threadbare squad with Luke Akehurst and Phil Gault joining the ever growing ranks of the unavailable but too many players looked as though their minds were already on summer holidays as the Robins arrived in Sunny Worthing already guaranteed a 13th place finish making this the very definition of a dead rubber.
Photographer Phil Westlake was at the game - see a slideshow of his pictures here
Yet Phil Wickwar was not hiding his disappointment after the game. “We let ourselves and everybody down today. Yes, there were absentees but that was still nowhere near good enough and I can only say sorry to the travelling support we had today who were absolutely fantastic.”
They were in good voice in the early exchanges with very little sign of the disaster that was about to unfold, Josh Hawkes going close with an effort from distance and home goalkeeper Fraser Trigwell doing well to force Liam Benson wide from a one-on-one and then making a decent block from a Dan Stokes effort.
Hassocks’ defending of set pieces earlier in the season could generously be described as being as useful as a chocolate fireguard but their recent renaissance since the turn of the year - this was just their fourth league defeat in 17 games in 2016 - had been based partly on eradicating that ability to concede from what felt like every other corner they had to defend.
They were back to their bad old ways here though, 20 minutes having passed when former Robin Pat Rose sent in a delivery that was scrambled home by Craig Nagle, after which Hassocks were never really at the races.
The heavy rain in preceding 24 hours and a steep gradient made the pitch at the Robert Albon Memorial Ground hard going, especially as it began to cut up in the second half which led to a final 45 minutes that was even more devoid of quality than the first.
There were plenty of niggly little fouls which didn’t help the game ebb and flow either with Rowan Wallis, Tom Barnes and James Oliver all showing aspects of Greco-Roman wrestling skills to halt United attacks.
Trigwell did well to deny Michael Death at full stretch while substitute Ryan John saw the ball taken off him by a splendid last ditch tackle from Jon Elliott as Hassocks struggled to make any headway.
Alex Harris displayed good handling to deal with a number of balls in before the safes were out late on as United added two more in the last 15 minutes to make sure of the three points, Frank Foster playing in Aaron Tugnott who slotted past Harris and then the same player scored again from - yes, you’ve guessed it - another Rose corner.
Hassocks host Wicka dn Barnham United in the last game of the season on Saturday.
It looks as though Hassocks will finish 13th in the Premier Division, barring a meltdown by Arundel.
Hassocks: Harris; Tighe, Marsh, Wallis, Oliver; Bant, Barnes, Hawkes, Stokes; Death, Benson. Subs: John (Benson), Wilkins (Bant), Russell (Stokes), P Wickwar (unused).
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