Heath exit FA Vase at Hassocks

Football. Sussex League. Hassocks v Broadbridge Heath. Action from the match. Picture Liz Pearce. 'LP041014FH03 SUS-140410-201653008
Football. Sussex League. Hassocks v Broadbridge Heath. Action from the match. Picture Liz Pearce. 'LP041014FH03 SUS-140410-201653008

Injury-hit Broadbridge Heath were without a goalkeeper on Saturday as they suffered FA Vase disappointment.

They went down 2-1 away to league rivals Hassocks in the second qualifying round, despite a spirited second-half showing.

Several days prior to this game Heath manager Steve Painter said he would like to give the cup competitions a higher priority this season.

However, that was before he realised that his already injury-depleted squad was hit even further with five forced changes from the team that won 4-1 at home to Hailsham Town in the previous game.

And despite having four goalkeepers on the books, none were available for the game; three were out through injury and the fourth is still waiting international clearance.

Andy Howard was handed the gloves and it wasn’t long before the defender was picking the ball out of the net when Hassocks striker Phil Johnson converted from close range.

Heath responded well and Merv Bhujun came close with a header that was deflected wide of the post off a Hassocks defender.

Deep into first-half injury time, a Hassocks player advanced into the Heath penalty area with the ball at his feet, Andy Waddingham made a tackle and appeared to have won the ball, but the referee thought otherwise and Nick Pitcher stepped up to hammer the spot kick into the roof of the net to give his team a flattering 2-0 half-time lead.

Heath were forced to make another change during the break when Bhujun, who picked up an injury in the final minutes of the half and was replaced by Saz Bidgood returning to the club after a short spell at Horsham YMCA.

Within five minutes of the restart, Jake Legrange forced the Hassocks keeper Sam Brock into making a good save, and Brock denied him again minutes later when he blocked a goal bound effort from the former Hornets striker.

At the other end, The Robins should have wrapped up the game when a slip in the Heath defence allowed a Hassocks player through on goal, but Howard came out quickly to clear the danger.

After a host of chances, Bidgood headed against the crossbar with the goal at his mercy, and Rob Godfrey struck a shot from 25 yards that flew just over the bar.

Finally, with less than 10 minutes remaining, Heath got their reward when a long throw from Piers McDermott was only cleared as far as Bidgood who hammered a shot through the crowded penalty area into the net.

Heath pushed everyone forward in search of the equaliser, Ollie Moore had another effort that went narrowly over the bar, and then headed a cross that crashed against the bar, and in the dying minutes Howard went up for a corner and powered a header downwards that was cleared off the line.

On the plus side for Heath was the team’s second half performance and that of new signing Matt Carruthers from St Francis Rangers who hardly wasted a pass all afternoon.

Heath: Howard, Chester, Godfrey, Waddingham, Flack, Carruthers, Moore, McDermott, Bhujun (Bidgood 46), Legrange, Wanstall (Creedon 70).