Those in attendance dug deep to donate over £1600, taking the total amount raised over the past decade past the £15,000 mark. It is quite a legacy in memory of the wife of Robins chairman Dave, much missed since she passed away from cancer in 2014. Hill's dominance of the fixture in recent seasons has been absolute. Hassocks came close to ending it a year ago, only being denied a draw late in the day and the trophy subsequently shared by a controversial late penalty converted by Lewis Finney. This was a reversal back to the norm, whereby the Robins struggle to lay a glove on their higher division opponents.
See 36 photos by Chris Neal – on this page and the ones linked. And don’t miss the Mid Sussex Times, out on Thursday, for coverage.
Hassocks fell behind as early as the third minute and although there was plenty of huffing and puffing from a starting XI missing some big name players, it was a straightforward success which extended the Hillian's unbeaten start under new boss Dean Cox to three matches. Rob O'Toole was the scorer of the early opener, needing only 180 seconds to grab his first goal back in Hill colours since re-joining from Whitehawk. Martyn Box hung up a cross to the back post where O'Toole was waiting to bundle home.
O'Toole went from a classic poacher's goal to almost doubling the lead with something utterly spectacular. An audacious overhead kick on 10 minutes whistled inches over the top of Fraser Trigwell's crossbar. Next O'Toole turned provider, squaring for Dan Perry. With the goal gaping, Perry hit an effort which posed more of a threat to houses in Hurstpierpoint than it did Trigwell.
The 27 minute mark brought three good chances for Hill in quick succession. A miraculous block on the line from teenager Sam Fernley kept out a Kieron Pamment drive from six yards. O'Toole was then denied a header by a good Trigwell save and from the resulting corner, Reece Hallard was left free but could only nod over. Hill were by this point playing some delightfully free flowing stuff. Box cut inside young Fernley and was not far away with a drive from 25 yards.
Another multipass move released O'Toole in a wide position and his left wing cross was volleyed over by Reggie Ward, put off by some impressive tracking back from Hassocks captain for the evening, Pat Harding. The second half continued in much the same vein. Hallard lifted over Trigwell, only for the ball to drop just wide. Perry uncharacteristically missed a second good chance when unable to convert the rebound from a Trigwell save and Pamment saw another goal bound effort blocked by some heroic defending.
Hill finally added the second they had been threatening for so long just before the hour mark. Tyrese Mthunzi laid off to Ward cutting inside and firing a low effort into the bottom corner. A flurry of substitutions followed in the final 30 minutes, Hassocks sending on the likes of Liam Benson, Jack Troak and Bradley Tighe. For Hill, the familiar name of A Trialist entered proceedings. This particular A Trialist made a real impression, going close on two occasions before teeing up Finney for the goal of the game.
Finney had a lot to do when he received the ball with his back to goal and three red shirts blocking his path. A beautiful first touch on the turn took him away from Sam Geard and Tighe, opening up enough of a gap for Finney to leather the ball beyond the helpless Trigwell. Hassocks did at least finish on the front foot, creating three scoring opportunities. Ben Bacon led a charge forward, dribbling around three Hill defenders. Some nice link up with Geard eventually worked the ball to Kyle Woolven, whose early shot from outside the box crashed into the side netting. A teasing Troak inswinging corner was then headed just wide by Benson before Troak himself fired over from a tight angle after a clever Mike Williamson pass opened up the Hillians defence.