In a hard fought League Cup semi-final Hassocks put up a great fight against Premier League Saltdean United, despite ultimately losing 2-1.
Facing a very strong wind in the first half, Hassocks had to soak up early pressure with Chloe John and then Lucy Reader both having to make good interceptions. Saltdean continued making the early running as Hassocks fought to overcome the difficulties in playing against the wind. Midfielder Gemma Craig showed good skill to win a throw-in but the majority of the play was in Hassocks’s third of the pitch and the pressure told in the 21st minute when from a corner, the ball broke for the Saltdean player to slot home giving the away side a 1-0 lead.
To Hassocks’s credit, they kept their heads up despite being under pressure. Sarah Chappell had to make a couple of good saves and the back three of Chloe John, Lucy Reader and Claire Stevens made several good interceptions and covering tackles before the half ended with the score 1-0. In the extremely difficult circumstances, Hassocks could be pleased with their first half performance in keeping the score down to one and giving themselves a chance in the second half. The whole team had battled well in restricting Saltdean to few actual chances on goal.
In the second half with the strong wind now in their favour, Hassocks started on the front foot. A probing cross from Kirsten Mair was deflected over the bar for a corner. Liz King then had a mazy run which nearly resulted in a chance. Kelly Rushworth played a through ball which the wind took away from the onrushing Billie Philpott. Saltdean were now experiencing the difficulties against the wind and Katherine Chappell shot just wide after the Saltdean keeper’s goalkick was intercepted.
Unfortunately for Hassocks, and somewhat against the run of play, Saltdean doubled their lead two minutes later with a well-placed shot from distance which gave keeper Sarah Chappell little chance. Despite this disappointment, Hassocks responded well and continued to press. Tallie Bright shot wide and after good work from Kelly Rushworth, a Katherine Chappell shot from distance went just over the bar. Substitute Jodie Johanson was brought on in the 64th minute.
Saltdean nearly increased their lead when following a corner, a goalmouth scramble had to be cleared by Claire Stevens. Sam Newman was brought on in the 72nd minute and ten minutes later, third substitute Emma Young was brought on and immediately made one of her trademark tackles to clear the danger. Substitute Banna Haines was brought on for the final few minutes and as the match went into ‘time added on’ Kelly Rushworth had another effort saved before Claire Stevens had to make a saving tackle at the other end. In the 2nd minute of added time, Billie Philpott reduced the deficit and gave Hassocks some hope with a well taken shot into the corner of the net to make the score 2-1.
Hassocks had one more chance when a goalmouth scramble ended with a shot over the bar, and the match finished with Saltdean the 2-1 winners. All the Hassocks players can be proud of their efforts, especially as they only had three days to recover after the hard fought Sussex FA Challenge Trophy victory. The team can now concentrate their efforts on the remaining league matches.
Report by Colin Stevens