Photos above: Arundel goal scorers Harry Russell & Ben Gray
Match Preview and Report Courtesy of Hassocks FC Website. Thank you very much and for your fine hospitality on Saturday.
Preview: Hassocks V Arundel, 26/01/19
The Southern Combination League Premier Division’s two longest serving clubs meet at the Beacon as Hassocks host Arundel.
The Robins have been in the top flight since 1994 with Arundel’s unbroken run of Premier Division football stretching from 2000.
In that time, there have been 43 league meetings with nothing much to separate the two sides. Hassocks have won on 15 occasions, Arundel on 13 while there have been 15 draws.
What those statistics don’t tell you though is that it has traditionally been the home side who have triumphed although that trend has been under threat in recent seasons, Arundel winning 4-0 on their last visit to the Beacon in December 2017 and Hassocks returning from Mill Road with a 3-1 success back in September.
Phil Johnson scored the first two goals of his second spell with the Robins with Dan Stokes also on target as the visitors came from behind after Benjamin Gray had given the Mullets a 34th minute lead.
It was a well-deserved victory for Mark Dalgleish’s side but it also pointed to a long, hard season ahead for the Mullets and so it has proven as they arrive here embroiled in the relegation battle.
That’s nothing new to Arundel; they pulled off a fantastic great escape from relegation from a pretty perilous position last season and if they can rediscover some of that form then with any luck, they’ll get themselves out of the mire before the end of the campaign.
One quality that Arundel do possess that the other sides around them at the bottom of the table may lack is goals thanks to the presence in their ranks of that familiar thorn in Hassocks’ side, the aforementioned Ben Gray.
Gray is one of the top scorers in the division despite the Mullet’s lowly position and as long as he keeps fit and firing for Simon Hull’s side, they’ll have a chance of escaping the drop.
Their recent run of fixtures hasn’t helped their league position, the Mullets having lost to both leaders Chichester City 6-1 and second placed Newhaven 6-0 since the turn of the year.
Sandwiched in between those results was a hugely encouraging 3-1 win over Lancing while earlier in the season, they claimed an impressive point away at high-flying Broadbridge Heath and also beat Peacehaven & Telscombe at home.
That points to the fact that the Mullets can be dangerous opponents on their day and Hassocks will know they’ll have to be at their best to stand a chance of picking up all three points and pushing themselves closer to safety.
Kick off at the Beacon is at 3pm and entrance is priced at £6 adults, £3 concessions and under 16s go free. The T Bar will be serving hot food and drink throughout and the Robins Bar can cater for all your beer needs as well.
Arundel Team :
1. Dan Stevens
2. Ryan Hallett
3. Dan Gibb
4. Jordan Dudas (Capt)
5. Nathan Foster
6. Ben Gray
7. Ash Hawkes (Withdrawn)
8. Matt Noble
9. Harry Russell
10. Dave Crouch
11. Dion Jarvis
12. Jordan Layton (Used)
14. Harry Potts
15. Owen Benfell
16. Ben Hornsby-Smith
Goal Scorers– B.Gray, H.Russell
Yellow Cards– Dudas, Hawkes
Red Cards - N/A
MULLETS WIN IN THE WIND AS HASSOCKS FAIL TO FIRE
It used to be the case that whenever the two longest serving teams in the Southern Combination League Premier Division met, whoever was at home out of Hassocks or Arundel would tend to win the game.
Well, not any more. The struggling Mullets won for the second successive season at the Beacon, going some of the way to avenging the fact that Hassocks have triumphed on their last two visits to Mill Road.
The most recent of those came in August, a 3-1 victory which was Hassocks’ first of the campaign and pointed to a long season ahead for their hosts.
Those predictions have come true and Arundel arrived in Mid Sussex second bottom of the table with only three league wins to their name so far.
Win number four was achieved via second half goals from Benjamin Gray and Harry Russell, the 2-0 success lifting Simon Hull’s side two places above Loxwood and Little Common and out of the relegation zone in the process.
To complete a miserable day for the hosts, they also saw left back Andy Whittingham dismissed in only his sixth appearance back in a Hassocks shirt since returning to the club after seven years away.
Mark Dalgleish made just one change to the side who had won at Eastbourne United a week previously, Jordan Badger returning at centre back with Harry Mills pushed into midfield to replace the unavailable Dan Stokes.
For all their good form since Christmas, Hassocks were a pale imitation of the side that had won five of their previous six matches and in truth, Arundel were deserved winners of an encounter low on any real quality.
Matters weren’t helped by a hurricane that was blowing from one end of the Beacon down to the other, restricting Hassocks’ normal potency as a counter attacking unit and ensuring that it was a stop-start game in which the Robins never really got going.
Before kick off, you’d have assumed that the side who defended the wind best would be the one who had the greater chance of winning the tie.
Hassocks therefore would certainly have been the happier of the two sides at half time as they came in with the scores locked at 0-0 having had the gale in their face for the previous 45 minutes.
Liam Benson had the best chance in that first half when he found himself one-on-one with Daniel Stevens, but the figure of Arundel captain Jordan Dudas galloping back to try and retrieve the situation put Benson under added pressure and that was enough to seem him fail to finish.
The Mullets were well organised when it came to it being their turn to defend the wind after the break and Hassocks couldn’t find a way through as Arundel gave their survival chances a real shot in the arm with a gritty second half display.
The one thing that Arundel do have in the battle to avoid the drop that other teams in and around the relegation zone don’t is an out-and-out goal scorer in the shape of Ben Gray, and it was he who gave the Mullets the lead on 57 minutes with his 14th goal of the season.
Two key moments from a Hassocks point of view followed that. The Robins’ own improvement from regular strugglers to their current mid table position has been founded on acquiring a quality striker of their own in Phil Johnson, but the normally reliable marksman fluffed his lines when miscuing a James Littlejohn cross from just five yards out.
Had Johnson managed to convert, an equaliser at that point might have changed the game but that miss was compounded when Whittingham was shown red for a tackle from behind.
Those two moments lifted Arundel’s spirits and they duly added a second through Harry Russell with 70 on the clock after some good build up play from Dave Crouch.
Despite there still being 20 minutes left and with Hassocks still having the wind advantage, there was no real optimism among the home support that the Robins were going to come back into the tie.
And so it proved, a lacklustre last quarter of an hour ensuring that Arundel left with all three points on another fruitful trip to the Beacon for the Mullets.
Hassocks: Josh Green; Bradley Tighe, Dan Jacques, Jordan Badger, Andy Whittingham; Harvey Blake, Harry Mills, Harvey Enticknap, James Littlejohn; Liam Benson, Phil Johnson.
Subs: Spencer Slaughter, Joe Bull, Jake Lindsey (used).
Starman: Dan Jacques.