Hassocks stun Lancing with second half comeback
Write Hassocks off at your peril. For the sixth time this season, the Robins came from 2-0 down to rescue something from a game, on this occasion stunning Lancing to draw 2-2 at Culver Road.
This wasn't their most impressive comeback - that was undoubtedly when they recovered to draw 3-3 away at champions Chichester City. Nor did they overcome as big a deficit as when turning around at half time trailing 3-0 at home to Loxwood in a game which ended 3-3. They didn't go onto win the tie either as happened in the Sussex RUR Charity Cup against Bexhill United when 0-2 at the break became 3-2 at the final whistle.
It was the most celebrated of their comebacks though. Dan Stokes’ equaliser with the last kick of the game sparked jubilant scenes among the travelling contingent and left sections of the home crowd seething as the Robins left Culver Road with a point for the first time since the artificial surface was installed.
This was entertaining Bank Holiday fare which, although not a local derby in the traditional sense, certainly had the feel of a rivalry about it.
That's probably because of the number of players who have moved between these two clubs this decade. Hassocks had four former Lancers in their squad in Josh Green, Bradley Tighe, Liam Benson and Lewis Westlake whilst Alex Bygraves and Michael Death were both in the hosts starting line up.
Death in particular was a lively presence in the first half. He tested Green with a header from a Matt Daniel cross which the Robins number one did well to keep out, managed to turn Will Broomfield before firing over the bar and dragged an effort wide after a fine move which swept up field after starting with Lancing goalkeeper Matt Evans.
Given that Hassocks had shipped five goals at home to bottom side Shoreham less than 48 hours earlier, Mark Dalgleish would have been pleased to see his side resisting Lancing relatively well despite the hosts pressure.
He'd completely rearranged his defensive players after that heavy defeat to the Musselmen. Tighe and Andy Whittingham took over the full back positions from Harvey Blake and Jordan Badger. Badger was shifted to the centre of defence alongside the returning Broomfield and Harry Mills was moved forward to add some bite into midfield.
Mills certainly did that, much to the disgruntlement of the locals. Alongside Harvey Enticknap, the Robins central duo were masters of the dark arts all morning.
Mills entered referee Andrew Senior's notebook before the first half was over and Whittingham joined him after a second half coming together with Bygraves.
That was bad news for the Lancing captain as not long after, he picked up a second booking in what proved to be the games major talking point.
That came when Lancing were adamant they should have had a penalty after Enticknap went sliding in on Daniel in the box. Enticknap meanwhile felt Daniel should have been booked for diving.
Bygraves certainly wasn't impressed by the lack of spot kick for his side, asking Mr Senior, “How have you missed that?”, picking up a second yellow for dissent in the process.
Lancing were leading 2-1 at that point. It was their lively top scorer Daniel who had rewarded them for an enterprising first half showing with the opening goal three minutes before the break.
Three was the magic number after the interval as well as Lancing needed just three minutes of the second half to double their advantage through Daniel Momah.
Unlike in Saturday's loss to Shoreham, Hassocks didn't look out of this one with the pace and power of Phil Johnson, Blake and Benson looking like it could cause the hosts problems on the break.
Broomfield pulled one back on the hour mark before Stokes struck in the last seconds to secure a share of the spoils, netting his fifth of the season. It was also his second last minute equaliser, following his later leveller at East Preston in September when the Robins first set their stall out as the comeback kings.
Hassocks: Green; Tighe, Broomfield, Badger, Whittingham; Enticknap, Mills, Stokes; Blake, Benson, Johnson.
Subs: Littlejohn, Bull, L Westlake (used), Jacques (unused).