After last week’s encouraging performance to earn a point against Lewes Development, Hassocks suffered a blow ahead of this week’s game against Eastbourne United with keeper Sarah Chappell being ruled out by illness. With back-up keeper Ellie Moquet also unavailable, Emma Young came out of retirement and stepped into the breach.
Hassocks started well, Bethany Purse winning an early free kick. Hassocks were then awarded an indirect free kick for a back-pass handled by the keeper, although to be fair, it seemed a very harsh decision. Fortunately for Eastbourne, Bethany Purse’s shot was well blocked by the defender. Eastbourne responded and Jodie Johanson had to chase back well to thwart an attack and then Claire Stevens also had to anticipate a through ball to win possession.
In the 10th minute, Bethany Purse had another effort, her shot looking bound for the top corner only for the keeper to pull off a magnificent save. Liz King then fed a through ball to Jodie Johanson but the keeper anticipated well and was out to kick clear. Despite being on top, Hassocks fell behind in the 16th minute, with an Eastbourne cross- shot finding the corner, although Emma Young got a hand to it and almost managed to keep it out.
Hassocks reasserted themselves immediately. Bethany Purse won a corner, from which Emma Flin’s shot was narrowly wide. In the 20th minute, Hassocks deservedly equalised with skipper Sam Newman’s excellent through ball allowing Bethany Purse to run on goal and calmly beat the keeper for her first goal since joining the club. Hassocks continued to press although Eastbourne had an attempt well saved by the diving Emma Young. Hassocks went ahead in the 29th minute, with a Jess Craig header finding Liz King whose lofted header looped into the corner.
Shortly afterwards an Eastbourne player was hurt and play was held up for 13 minutes. After the delay, Hassocks continued on top and a Jess Craig shot was just wide after more good work by Bethany Purse. Eastbourne then threatened as the half neared its end with firstly Chloe John having to produce some excellent defending and then Claire Stevens having to head clear a dangerous looking free kick. However, just before the break, Bethany Purse produced another excellent finish to increase the lead to 3-1 at half-time.
Substitute Katherine Chappell, who also had not been 100% fit, was introduced for the second half. In the 48th an excellent run and cross by Gemma Craig found Bethany Purse whose shot was narrowly wide. Kirsten Mair then had a shot saved. After Katherine Chappell’s perseverance won a throw in, Kirsten Mair’s cross was cleared for a corner.
In the 64th minute, after a mad scramble in the Hassocks goalmouth, Hassocks broke away with Gemma Craig winning a corner. Liz King’s shot was then deflected for another corner, which unfortunately Hassocks couldn’t take advantage of. Two substitutes, Tallie Bright and Emily Brocklehurst were brought on and Hassocks continued to look good value for their lead. Bethany Purse’s run and cross produced another shot which was blocked.
In the 77th minute, however, the whole pattern of the match changed. Eastbourne pulled a goal back from nowhere when a speculative 35 yard shot found the top corner, giving keeper Emma Young no chance. This clearly encouraged Eastbourne and three minutes later they scored a second spectacular goal with another shot to the top corner to make the score 3-3.
Eastbourne were now on top and looked like they could snatch victory. Substitute Hollie Lamar had to make a good block, Emma Flin had to make several saving tackles and Claire Stevens had to head clear two dangerous looking crosses. With one final effort by Eastbourne going wide, the final whistle went with honours even at 3-3.
Although disappointed to lose two goal lead and to have victory snatched from them at the end for the second week running, the Hassocks players can be proud of their efforts. They were the better side for three quarters of the match and it took two outstanding unstoppable shots to prevent Hassocks getting all three points. There were many good passing movements involving all the midfielders, and Bethany Purse looked a constant threat up front and took her two goals expertly.