A day to really forget after 3rd consecutive defeat in League!
With a 3-0 win already at The Beacon, home of Hassocks FC in the Peter Bentley; we travelled there for League action.
No D Graves, no Twiggy Johnston, no N James, no D Heaton, no C Ransome, T Stead carrying a hamstring knock but still involved... already a brilliant start to everyone’s Saturday afternoon as many of our regular squad set up we’re deemed unavailable for various reasons. Hassocks without much form going into this, the same as us after 2 league defeats to Crawley Down and Newhaven and a Peter Bentley exit to Horsham YMCA. A must win for both sides in the context of things.
We opted for 3 at the back, with not a lot of choice considering managements limited resources. Bakhit had to slide into the centre of 3, Stead had to be risked at LWB. Wilford out on the right hand side. The first start for C Ridley; aka Bits! And the 2 Bens up top.
The first half wasn’t great from a Linger perspective. Hassocks had the better of chances and were becoming slightly too easy for them to get into direct positions. Moore made a few very strong saves to keep their pacey front line at bay. Bakhit booked for getting caught dribbling in and out of cones on the edge of his box and having to pull the forward back. We did create about 3/4 good half-chances: but in our current run, nothing seemed to be coming off! The half finished in a stalemate. 0-0 HT
Clear instructions to kick ourselves up the backside and start moving that ball quicker; and on the whole, the 2nd half was a lot better, breaking through a lot more. Our downfall came from silly, silly mistakes that are just causing chaos through games. P Johnson, Hassocks main goal scorer in behind Fuller and into the box. As Fuller tried to regain ground running around him resulted in bringing the centre-forward down and a penalty given and converted by the same man; 1-0. The game was still well in the balance and Hassocks began going even more direct than they were, and the back four retreating slightly. The equaliser came from a shot not properly caught by the keeper and his recovering parry fell to Ridley to tap home. Ascendency fully with us at this point. A nothing ball in behind going all the way to Moore slipped through his hands and to the byline for a simple square and tap in for Johnson yet again. 2-1. It was 3 minutes later after with a simple long ball not dealt with and another low square cross tapped in at the back post, game all but over. Horn got a consolation goal very late on, a well-controlled volley. But not enough to change the result. 3-2 FT
This result means we fall to 12th and lose some crucial ground on this mid-pack chase in the league. I know that there are ‘no expectations’ for the season in terms of winning leagues, but our own pressures and expectations of what we’re capable of just hasn’t been at the level it should be over the last 3 weeks to a month. 4 consecutive defeats in all comps, 3 in the league has put us in a position that we need to really get together, run and play ourselves into some richer form. I think a combination of limited availability has put management on the back foot slightly, nevertheless there is no excuse for us players in what has been conceding too many goals; more often than not our own doing; and not scoring goals when we need and should. This game can be extremely frustrating at times, and none more so than right now; but only together can we get back to the heights we feel we should be. Things don’t get any easier with the arrival of Saltdean to the Lair on Saturday. However, December 1 and our Christmas schedule starts then, hopefully, we can refresh and start clean with a big, big performance!
A big thank you to all the travelling support and can only hope to see you all back at The Lair to help us get back on track!
By Sammy Clements