Hassocks lift Sunday Trophy after 8 goal thriller
Hassocks Fatboys won the Sussex Sunday Challenge Trophy after a thoroughly entertaining eight goal thriller with FC Grinstead at Culver Road on Thursday night.
The match felt like it had everything for the sublime to the ridiculous over the course of 120 minutes, with goals galore, missed opportunities, a penalty and even a late red card.
Hassocks dominated proceedings early on, with four shots in the opening 20 minutes, their best opportunity falling to Stuart Brown, but the skippers’ effort was cleared off the line by opposition captain, Aaron Baston.
George Saunders opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, to give FC Grinstead the lead after Jordan Walsh’s attempted header back to his keeper sent the attacker through on goal, and he duly lobbed the ball over the advancing Scott McCarthy.
Hassocks continued to create the majority of the chances, despite trailing, with Brown coming close multiple times but failing to convert, which saw Grinstead go in at half-time 1-0 up.
Both sides started the second-half with high intensity, Hassocks creating further opportunities, but Lee Clarke in the Grinstead net was keeping everything out.
FC Grinstead extended their lead to 2-0 in the 57th minute, when a deep cross from Lewis Power found its way in after the unfortunate Dave Linehan failed to clear his lines and directed the ball into his own net.
However, Hassocks hit back shortly after, finally finding the back of the net through a close-range Luke Vick header to give his side a route back into the game at 2-1.
FC Grinstead grew frustrated after conceding, Saunders received a yellow card for a heavy challenge before Mickey Neatherway received a ten minute sin bin. Going down to ten men proved to be costly as Hassocks Fatboys equalised courtesy of a powerful Andrew Brown header in the 72nd minute to level the score at two apiece.
Grinstead’s frustrations continued, as Josh Dove was booked for a late challenge. But they regained their composure late on and took the lead once again through an unstoppable strike from Ben Whiteman. His effort on the volley flew into the top corner, and with less than ten minutes to play, looked like it had sealed the trophy for his side.
But, Hassocks never gave up and their determination was rewarded as they equalised with the last kick of the 90 minutes.
A needless corner was given away, and Chris Clayton was brought on especially, before the corner was taken, and it was he who scrambled the ball home for Hassocks in the fifth minute of added time, to level the scores at 3-3, and send the tie into extra-time in dramatic fashion.
That late equalizer was a sucker-punch for Grinstead, and a galvanised Hassocks side took the lead for the first time in the game, in extra-time, after a quick counter-attack ended in a cut-back that Stuart Brown smashed into the top corner, making it 4-3 before half time of extended period.
Hassocks pulled further ahead shortly after the interval, following a great passing move which ended with Mike McDonald squaring the ball to Stuart Brown who grabbed his second and his teams fifth goal of the night.
There was still time for FC Grinstead to be awarded a lifeline in the 116th minute after a foul on Alex Pearse won them a penalty, however, Power stepped up and sent the spot-kick over the bar to cap off a frustrating night for FC Grinstead, but what a spectacle that game was!
Following referee Rob Carron’s final whistle, Grinstead’s Saunders let his frustrations get the better of him and he was shown a red card for foul and abusive language.
After the match Hassocks Fatboys manager, Reece Wickwar, praised his side for their determination to get back into game after a poor start.
“We made hard work of it, we were so frustrated going into half-time losing, and to go two down, we were shellshocked.
“I think we did really well to come back into it, the effort was there across the ninety to get us where we needed to be and after that last minute goal, you can’t go on and lose can you!”
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)
Stats: (Hassocks Fatboys-FC Grinstead): Goals (5-3), Shots (25-13), Shots on target (15-7), Corners (11-5), Fouls (9-13), Offsides (6-1), Yellow cards (0-4), Red cards (0-1).
Hassocks Fatboys: McCarthy, Linehan, Walsh, Williams, Vick, Gill, A. Brown, Wilkes, S. Brown ©, Clayton, Wickwar.
Subs: McDonald, Ballantyne, Davie, Spies, Tolhurst.
FC Grinstead: Clarke, A. Pearse, A. Baston ©, Dove, B. Pearce, Park, Brazenell, Middleton, Neatherway, Power, Saunders.
Subs: C. Baston, Whiteman, Hollidge, Tellet, Gardner.
Match Report by Jack Bryant