In their final match of the season, Hassocks maintained their unbeaten record in the league with a hard fought 1-1 draw against Burgess Hill. Although the title had been won a couple of weeks previously, the Hassocks players were keen to end the season on a high note and the Burgess Hill players commendably, with nothing to play for but pride, were in no mood to make it easy for them.
Burgess Hill started brightly and both Claire Stevens and Liz King had to make early blocks but Hassocks responded with a Kelly Rushworth shot just over from an excellent cross by Emma Young. In the 7th minute, keeper Sarah Chappell had to be alert to anticipate and cut out a dangerous looking cross. However, a minute later, Hassocks took an early lead with Billie Philpott calmly finding the net after an excellent through ball by Liz King.
To their credit, Burgess Hill responded well and both Kirsten Mair and Claire Stevens had to produce moments of good defending but in the 11th minute Burgess Hill came close to an equaliser when a close range header went just past the post. Hillians went close again two minutes later when a dangerous looking cross was well caught by keeper Sarah Chappell.
Midway through the first half, Hassocks seemed to be off the pace somewhat with some good possession being enjoyed by Burgess Hill, although Hassocks eventually woke up and a Kirsten Mair header was narrowly wide from yet another Emma Young cross. A corner by Mair was then hit well, but narrowly over the bar, by Tallie Bright. In the 32nd minute, Claire Stevens then had to produce some good defending when threatened by a two on one attack. Shortly afterwards, a superb through ball by skipper Sam Newman nearly played in Billie Philpott but she was crowded out by two defenders.
Emma Young was frequently demonstrating her interception and tackling skills before an effort from a Hassocks corner hit the post. Another effort from Kirsten Mair was well saved from a great pass from Liz King, so the half ended with Hassocks leading 1-0.
Early in the second half, Kelly Rushworth and one of the Hillians players appeared to clash heads but thankfully both recovered quickly. Hassocks made a slow start to the second half and Claire Stevens had to be alert to clear a dangerous through ball before they upped their game with Katherine Chappell and Gemma Craig seeing more of the ball in central midfield and a Billie Philpott shot in the 57th minute needing to be saved. However, Burgess Hill then scored an equaliser in the 59th minute with an unstoppable shot high into the corner of the goal.
Substitute Chloe John was brought on and shortly afterwards Hassocks were awarded a free kick which Kelly Rushworth hit well but which was gathered by the keeper. In the 66th minute, substitute Jess Craig was introduced. Katherine Chappell won a corner which Kirsten Mair met but couldn’t convert. Hollie Larmar was brought on in the 77th minute and five minutes later Hassocks nearly retook the lead when a pinpoint Kirsten Mair corner was met by Claire Stevens with a bullet header, which looked bound for the goal but was brilliantly headed clear by the defender on the line.
Further substitutes were made. Banna Hannes was brought on in the 86th minute and Jodie Johanson was brought on two minutes later. Burgess Hill threatened in the final few minutes but Hassocks defended well to ensure the match ended 1-1, thus confirming Hassocks’s unbeaten league season.
Although they were disappointed to concede a league goal for the first time since late September, the Hassocks players can be proud of their record of eighty-three goals scored and only four league goals conceded all season. The Sussex FA Challenge Trophy victory and reaching the semi-final of the League Cup also contributed to this being a highly enjoyable and successful season. All the squad, captained by Sam Newman and managed by Martin Lee, made contributions. The team can now have a summer rest before training and preparing for next season’s challenge in the Premier League.
Report By Colin Stevens