Hassocks 2, Newhaven 1: Robins win it at the Death

Action from Hassocks v Newhaven. Picture by Phil Westlake
Action from Hassocks v Newhaven. Picture by Phil Westlake

Hassocks left it as late as possible to defeat Newhaven 2-1 and win consecutive game number seven to equal the clubs best ever run in senior football.

It was the aptly named Michael Death who struck right at the death - the 91st minute to be precise - to match the seven game streak that the Robins class of 1999-00 put together and with it secure a first victory since 1987 over the Dockers.

Action from Hassocks v Newhaven. Picture by Phil Westlake

Action from Hassocks v Newhaven. Picture by Phil Westlake

Phil Wickwar had admitted before the game that his sides winning run had been helped in part by a set of fixtures against teams around his in the bottom half of the Southern Combination Premier table but that was not the case here, Newhaven arriving at the Beacon with just five defeats to their name and sitting in fourth spot in the table making them a credible dark horse for promotion.

The hosts rode their luck at times to secure the three points and you’d have got long odds on there being such a dramatic climax - which also included an 80th minute Newhaven equaliser - after a first half in which it took 25 minutes for there to be a shot on target.

And with that first shot came the first goal in a move that would have had anybody who appreciated the finer points of the Wimbledon side of the 1980s purring with delight, Phil Gault latching onto a massive punt forward from Alex Harris in the Hassocks goal to slot past Jake Buss at the other end with aplomb.

Ebou Jallow came closest to equalising for Newhaven but he saw his effort cannon back off the upright while there were a few customary shaky moments for the Robins rearguard from set pieces.

Action from Hassocks v Newhaven. Picture by Phil Westlake

Action from Hassocks v Newhaven. Picture by Phil Westlake

Newhaven came out for the second half with attack on the mind and that allowed Hassocks to use their pace on the break to fashion three decent half chances early on as the game began to ebb and flow.

The end-to-end stuff saw Harris do brilliantly to tip a header over, the crossbar come to the young Hassocks stoppers rescue and then it was straight up the other end for Jonno Melia to flash an effort just the wrong side of the post.

A Newhaven free kick smashed into the Hassocks wall and wide, Ian Robinson found Lee Robinson who saw his effort deflected out and the Dockers missed another big chance from the resulting corner.

Next up it was Hassocks’ turn to spurn a gilt-edged chance, Death nutmegging Adam Kneller and advancing away with the ball falling to Melia who fired just over with only Buss to beat.

The next goal would be crucial and it went Newhaven’s way but only once Harris had pulled off another excellent stop when it seemed to the world that the ball was destined for the back of the net, after which he was powerless to keep out a Kyle Woolven effort that deflected in off the helpless Ashley Marsh.

Not so long ago that would have been curtains for Hassocks but this winning streak has inspired a new found believe in the Robins and they went on the attack again believing the game was still there to be won, Gault feeding Melia who glided clear only to shoot wide and then Death finding himself with almost too much time as he fired over after nice link up play with James Westlake.

And then came that late, late winner in a goal that summed this end-to-end encounter up, Newhaven missing a header from which Harris rolled Melia away and his excellent cross was powered home by the head of Death to steal the win.

Hassocks: Harris; Tighe, Marsh, Wallis, Akehurst; Bant, Hawkes, Westlake, Melia; Death, Gault.

Subs: Pitcher (Hawkes), Jacques, Brown, Barnes, Wilkins (unused).

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