Heath on top in Boxing Day Derby
It’s not often a football match kicks off at 11 am, but SCFL Boxing Day action brought the Heath to local rivals Hassocks bright and early to battle it out for 3 points.
With the Heath unbeaten in their last 5 league matches, and Hassocks winless in December, the gap between the two clubs had shrunk since their last meeting on Halloween. Just 3 changes were made to Naim Rouane’s Blues side which delivered a 6-0 win on Saturday, Darius Goldsmith’s yellow card suspension over, and Tom Gilbert and former Robins man Liam Benson found their place in the starting 11 again.
The hosts nearly took the lead early on, a well-delivered corner reaching the head of a hassocks man, the ball looping over Jones but cleared by Tom Gilbert who had positioned himself well on the line. Hayden Skerry had already forced a corner out of the Hassocks number 1 and after a defence-splitting pass from Lewis Finney reached the winger out on the right-hand side, he cut inside on his left to beat the defender and bent it past the goalkeeper.
The Robins pulled level minutes before the break, a sloppy pass in the back line allowed Hassocks to pick a pass through the middle sending Josh Nandhra one-on-one with Alfie Jones and slotting it past the Heath stopper. Heath were quick off the blocks in the second half, Cadman’s corner was met by the head of Josh Spinks who rose highest to nod Heath back into the lead in the 50th minute. Things went from good to even better for the Heath, Josh Spinks from a free kick pinging a superb cross-field pass combined with the immaculate touch of Skerry allowed the number 11 to charge goalwards, he pulled it across the face of goal in the aim of finding a teammate, but it was tapped in by a Hassocks defender to double Heath’s lead with 20 minutes to go. ,
Heath appeared to be cruising, with the scores at 3-1 and an attacking change made, Dobell replacing Geard who had picked up a yellow card, Hassocks found a chance to go forward out on the right-hand side, the shot from Stephenson looked tame but ended up through the legs of Alfie Jones and over the goal line. With just 6 minutes of normal time left to go, Tom Gilbert was the victim of a reckless challenge leaving him on the turf, the lack of a foul sparked protest from Josh Spinks, the defender sin-binned, meaning Heath were forced to see most of the remaining minutes of the match with 10 men. Rouane opted for solidly, Skerry was replaced by Minty and then with seconds to go Connolly replaced Benson The full-time whistle was much to the delight of all associated with the Blues, Naim Rouane the first over to the travelling Heath supporters followed by a delighted set of players who left the Beacon Ground with a much-deserved 3 points.