George Brown’s first senior goal on 87 minutes gave Hassocks a deserved share of the spoils in an entertaining encounter with Division 1 new boys Loxwood at The Beacon on Saturday.
His excellent left footed strike from outside the box, was just reward for a workmanlike performance from the Robins, who had fallen behind just two minutes earlier and showed great character to snatch a point against a more experienced Loxwood line up.
With Ashley Marsh suspended and Ian Simpson at a wedding, Nick Pitcher and Dan Jacques formed a new central defensive partnership and they coped admirably with the former Three Bridges pairing of Dean Wright and Tim Martin. Chris Maynard was also drafted in at left back, with Brown replacing the injured Nathan Cooper in the middle of the park. Hassocks got off to their customary slow start with Martin and Matt Merridew both having good chances in the first 15 minutes, the Robins’s first chance coming soon after when Phil Gault headed straight at Matt Morrish in the Loxwood goal. On the half hour Jack Simpson made a superb one handed save to deny Martin’s header, whilst at the other end Gault’s clever free kick played in Brown who’s shot ended up in the side netting and right on the stroke of half time Morrish turned a Gault free kick away.
The second half was end to end, without either keeper really being overworked, all too often fine approach play from both sides broke down on the edge of the box, former Robins favourite Eddie French, showing that he is still a class act at the heart of the Loxwood back line. However, with 5 minutes to go, Loxwood took the lead, lively substitute Ryhan Ramsey showed good pace down the left and his lay back found right wing back Joe Holvey who tucked his precise shot past Simpson and into the far corner. Hassocks responded immediately though and when Gault’s cross was headed out it fell to young George Brown, who’s pinpoint effort flew through a crowd of players, leaving Morrish unsighted as the ball nestled in the bottom right hand corner of the net. In injury time Nathan Miles almost snatched all 3 points but his snapshot was grabbed by Morrish.
A fine point for Hassocks, who are yet to field their strongest possible 11.
Hassocks: J Simpson; Common, Jacques, Pitcher, Maynard; Johnson, Hibbert, G Brown, Hillwood; Miles, Gault.
Subs: Booth (Maynard 77), Gathern, Davess (unused)
Starman: George Brown, encouraging display, topped with a fine goal.