Hastings Notch First League Win
Hastings United 2;
Hastings United 2,
Hastings United experienced mixed fortunes in Isthmian League encounters over the Bank Holiday weekend, going down to a surprise 2-3 defeat at Ramsgate last Saturday but bouncing back to beat Whitehawk 2-0 on the holiday Monday at Pilot Field.
The ‘U’s conceded an early goal in their match on the Kent coast. They drew level through a Knory Scott strike after a long throw by Ollie Black and subsequent melee in the home side’s penalty area, but looked vulnerable on the break, and were hit with two further scores before halftime. After the break they improved considerably with the introduction of substitute Lloyd Dawes, pulling one goal back through another substitute, veteran striker Kenny Pogue, and coming close on several other occasions, but could not force an equaliser.
Manager Chris Agutter retained Dawes in the starting line-up for the game against Whitehawk, and was rewarded with a bright attacking performance in a hard-fought contest against opponents prepared to play physically. Jack Dixon, never one to shirk a challenge, got himself yellow-carded for a mistimed tackle, but was ultimately selected as man of the match for his whole-hearted performance.
After a goal-less first half, United upped their pressure. In one attack Ben Pope was fouled near the corner flag; Sam Hasler fired the ball across and in at the near post. The ‘U’s were worth their 1-0 lead at that stage and never looked likely to concede. Pogue headed just wide; Sam Adams hit the post in the 88th minute; and the points were finally secured in added time by a deft finish from Ben Pope.
The first three league results of this season – a draw, a defeat and a win – have shown that, while United will clearly be promotion contenders again, they are not going to stroll to success. Agutter strengthened his squad further last week by re-signing winger Lanre Azeez, a regular in the 2019/20 table-topping side before departing to Welling United. He commented on the club website: “With Lanre joining it’s the final jigsaw piece to our puzzle. It’s been a long time coming and I’m delighted to welcome Lan back home. That’s us done, dusted and ready to go.”
Next up is an FA Cup tie tomorrow (Saturday) against Harefield United, who play in the South Midlands Football League, one tier below the status of Hastings. They should be a little too good for their Middlesex opponents, as they were in the previous round a fortnight ago when dispatching Beckenham. But away matches in knock-out cups against lowlier opposition are rarely straightforward, and Agutter will no doubt select a competitive team.
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