Hassocks gained their first point of the season with a hard fought 1-1 draw at Newhaven, but the scoreline does not reflect the events in an extraordinary match. Disaster struck Hassocks before the start with two players being injured in the warm-up, Jodie Johanson and keeper Sarah Chappell. Johanson was unable to start and was replaced by Rose Jump but although Chappell was clearly in pain, she was able to start. To add to the problems, Kelly Rushworth was nursing an injury and was not 100% fit.
Hassocks started brightly with Kelly Rushworth having an early shot saved. In the 4th minute, a through ball from Chloe John resulted in Jess Craig winning a corner and shortly afterwards a header from Kelly Rushworth found Kirsten Mair whose shot went over the bar. In a generally excellent beginning to the game, Hassocks continued on top with another Mair shot blocked.
In the 17th minute a header by Claire Stevens from a Chloe John corner went over the bar but the ball had gone narrowly out. By this time, the Hassocks central midfield of Gemma and Jess Craig and Liz King had generally been in charge although Newhaven briefly responded but excellent defending by Liz King and Chloe John averted the danger and shortly afterwards, Claire Stevens had to make a good interception.
This encouraged the Newhaven players and they should have taken the lead when a cross was parried by keeper Sarah Chappell but the onrushing forward diverted the ball wide. Skipper Sam Newman then had to make a timely clearance before keeper Chappell saved another shot on goal. Kelly Rushworth had two efforts on goal just before half-time both being saved, but with the last attack of the half, Newhaven broke away in numbers and an excellent cross found the player overlapping on the right who slotted the ball home, giving Newhaven a 1-0 half-time lead. The scoreline was not representative though, as Hassocks had clearly had the best of the half but unfortunately weren’t able to take their chances.
Keeper Sarah Chappell was unable to continue after half-time, Kelly Rushworth replacing her in goal, with Ria Banitas coming into midfield. Rushworth was immediately in the action having to save a lobbed effort and then clawing away a corner which looked as if it might creep straight into the net. Ria Banitas also made an immediate impression with an excellent run and pass to find Rose Jump whose shot was saved. Hassocks had another chance to equalise in the 58th minute when Jess Craig was fouled five yards outside the area, but Kirsten Mair’s effort from the free kick went narrowly wide.
Two minutes later, however, Hassocks did equalise, in bazaar fashion. The keeper and defenders played short passes in the penalty area and Rose Jump nipped in to win the ball and calmly slotted it past the keeper. Newhaven responded and Claire Stevens had to make a saving tackle. Kelly Rushworth then had to anticipate a through ball and come out rapidly to kick the ball clear.
In the 86th minute, another injury struck with Gemma Craig needing treatment before being able to carry on. A minute later, Emma Flin suffered a head injury after an accidental collision with the Newhaven forward and was unable to carry on. Hassocks had to play out the last few minutes with ten players, but in an amazing finish, could have won the game when Rose Jump was fouled in the area, but the resultant penalty was hit over the bar.
Although the players will be disappointed not to have won, they deserve huge credit with the temperature touching the mid twenties. Suffering so many injuries meant that no second half substitutions were possible whereas, Newhaven were able to rotate five substitutes in the hot conditions.
Defenders Chloe John, Claire Stevens, Emma Flin and Sam Newman did not allow Newhaven many chances and the midfielders Gemma Craig, Jess Craig, Liz King and Kirsten Mair controlled the game in the first half and battled bravely in the heat in the second half with Newhaven able to introduce fresh players. Ria Banitas and Rose Jump, in unfamiliar positions, frequently caused the Newhaven defence some trouble in the second half. Overall, it was an excellent result and with, hopefully, some of the injuries clearing up, the team can progress well.
Report by Colin Stevens