The match kicked off with Hassocks playing against a strong wind and Burgess Hill came out of the traps quickest with a first minute shot going wide. Keeper Sarah Chappell then had to be out well to claim a cross and Claire Stevens had to defend well to thwart another Burgess Hill attack. Hassocks couldn’t seem to get into their stride and Burgess Hill deservedly took the lead in the 11th minute with a close range header following an excellent cross.
Hassocks, finally, started to press and Kelly Rushworth was tackled at the last minute and Billie Philpott shot wide after good work by Gemma Craig. Burgess Hill responded and keeper Sarah Chappell was forced into a fine save, conceding a corner, which was well headed away by Claire Stevens. The match was now more even and Billie Philpott’s shot on the turn was wide after an excellent pass by Kelly Rushworth. Burgess Hill then had another shot saved before Hassocks drew level in the 32nd minute. Kirsten Mair’s pass found Rushworth who low shot found the corner of the net.
Hassocks then had a good spell of possession but couldn’t make it count, the nearest effort on goal being another Billie Philpott effort. Burgess Hill responded, though, and after an excellent through ball, Tallie Bright made a saving tackle and won the goal kick. The first half ended with the score 1-1, although Hassocks would have fancied their chances in the second half with the strong wind now in their favour.
In a change of formation, substitute Liz King was brought on at half time for Emma Young, who had given her usual battling performance in the first half just in front of the back three. Immediately, Katherine Chappell shot just over following a cross by Billie Philpott, who shortly afterwards had another shot narrowly wide. Hassocks were now on top but had a lucky escape when Claire Stevens lost her footing but was quick enough to recover and help recover the situation.
In the 58th minute, the game was stopped for several minutes with an accidental head injury to one of the Burgess Hill players, who thankfully recovered but had to be substituted. Defender Chloe John then played a magnificent through ball which unfortunately the wind took through to the keeper just before Kelly Rushworth could reach it. Hassocks continued to press and a Billie Philpott cross was just too high for the onrushing Tallie Bright. In the 69th minute, Hassocks deservedly went in front, a Kirsten Mair corner involving Katherine Chappell ended with a superb glancing header by Liz King giving the keeper no chance.
The game now ebbed and flowed from end to end. Sarah Chappell had to anticipate a through ball and a pass from Katherine Chappell nearly found Billie Philpott but the keeper was out quickly. Hassocks then exerted an element of control with a Kelly Rushworth shot having to be saved and a cross by Philpott being parried by the keeper. In the 89th minute, substitute Jodie Johanson was brought on as the fourth official indicated there would be a minimum of nine minutes of added time. Hassocks continued to attack. Billie Philpott had two efforts saved before unleashing an unstoppable shot which cannoned off the bar.
Hassocks were nearly made to pay for not extending their lead as Burgess Hill mounted a furious effort in the final few minutes, not helped by Hassocks being careless with possession. Defenders Chloe John, skipper Sam Newman and Claire Stevens all had to make saving tackles and interceptions as Burgess Hill threatened but Hassocks saw out the threat and ended as 2-1 winners.
The match was a credit to both teams, who have also both reached the semi-finals of the League Cup and will be playing sides from the Premier League. For Hassocks, everybody played their part. Skipper Sam Newman drove the team on and defensively, they looked strong and they limited Burgess Hill to few chances. The midfielders linked well and in attack, on another day, could have scored more, but credit must be given to Burgess Hill who matched Hassocks all of the way and made it a memorable cup final.
Report by Colin Stevens