Crawley Down Gatwick 1 Hassocks 1
By Richard Munn
The Anvils started with a slightly unusual line up. Influential midfielders Michael Belli and Williams Peauroux were missing due to suspension for the latter and because of illness in the case of the former.
Belli was well enough to play a cameo role from the bench towards the end but was not able to affect the outcome. James Day returned at the back replacing Marc Pelling as manager Paul Cooper opted for some rotation. There was a very young feel to the side with Sam Lemon making his first start on the left and with Ben Wilson on the right and Johden de Meyer up front. On paper this was a game that the home side would have expected to win comfortably. Down’s home form has been very impressive with only one home defeat all season and with the visitors second from bottom it should have been relatively easy. However football is not played on paper and when one side is a bit complacent and the other is full of enthusiastic youngsters looking to build on a recent revival, the script was probably predictable and so it turned out. The Anvils started slowly and Hassocks looking very dangerous in the early exchanges could easily have had a two goal advantage in the first 5 minutes. Instead after 6 minutes a home corner wasn't dealt with convincingly and a scuffed clearance gave Johden De Meyer the chance to fire home for 1-0. However anyone amongst the home fans who thought that it would become a procession was in for a disappointing evening. Hassocks continued to show great commitment. Their team spirit was commendable led by Michael Death who was having one of his all-round good games. He led the line superbly and linked up well with young Jake Lindsey who was a real outlet throughout for the Robins and one of the better players on display throughout the evening. He is turning out to be quite the find for Hassocks. It was almost inevitable that he would pop up with the equaliser which was his third goal in five starts since his elevation from the Robins youth team. The goal when it came after 42 minutes was a bad one to concede from a home point of view. A clumsy challenge by James Day, which earned him a yellow card, led to a Hassocks free kick just outside the box. A brilliant in swinging free kick from Michael Death was met with a deft header by Lindsey to make it 1-1 at the break. The second half of this one was pretty nondescript with both teams doing plenty of huffing and puffing but with very little in the way of quality football on show, leaving the draw a fair result come the final whistle. Michael Belli did liven things up a bit in his brief appearance but by the time of his arrival the whole game had settled into such a turgid mediocre nothingness that I’m not sure that Lionel Messi would have been able to provide any inspiration. Based on this performance it was easy to see why Hassocks have put a little run together and I have no doubt that playing like this over their remaining games will see them comfortably pull away from the bottom three. It was a strangely subdued performance from the Anvils with a number of players having off nights in the same game. One stand out performer for the anvils was MOM Sonny Barton who defended well and rampaged forward down the left at every opportunity.
Crawley Down Gatwick: Seb Bos, Billy Wraight (Blair Cooney 80 mins), Sonny Barton, Michael Spence, Sam Packham, James Day, Ben Wilson (Dan Sullivan 58 mins), Lee Thomas, Sam Cane (Michael Belli 71 mins), Johden de Meyer, Sam Lemon. Unused sub: Marc Pelling
(With acknowledgement to the match report on the Hassocks FC website)