FOOTBALL: Cup Defeats For Hastings But Credit Where It’s Due
Hastings United 2, Brighton Under-23s 3 (Sussex Senior Cup)
Weymouth 1, Hastings United 0 (FA Trophy)
Hastings United have suffered two cup exits in the past week. But on each occasion they gave a good account of themselves against supposedly superior opposition and can count themselves doubly unfortunate.
In a midweek home tie in the Sussex Senior Cup against the young professionals of Brighton & Hove Albion they matched their visitors technically and in endeavour, equalised twice with goals from Davide Rodari and Ben Pope, and were pressing hard at the end for a third.
Despite the absence of both first-choice central defenders Craig Stone and Gary Elphick, both out with knocks, the Hastings defence generally held firm; Ollie Black’s long throws caused severe problems at the other end, Rodari heading in one of them for United’s first goal; Lanre Azeez often had the beating of his markers, and it was his cross which Pope flicked in for the second. Jack Dixon, Pope and Rodari again, and substitute Kenny Pogue all came close. The 3-2 final score was harsh on an excellent home display.
Last Saturday United played at Weymouth in the FA Trophy following their replay win at Whitehawk in the previous round 11 days earlier. With Elphick and Daniel Ajakaiye restored to the line-up, they were in the ascendant for much of the first half, and Elphick’s header looked to have opened the scoring before being disallowed for a debatable push. However, they were pegged back midway through the second half by a well-worked goal from the home side, and couldn’t find a breakthrough despite renewed pressure in the closing minutes.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the annual away day to Guernsey – a trip by air for team, management and dedicated supporters, with the prospect of playing before their biggest crowd of the season. Hastings have a reasonable record there in recent seasons, but will find their hosts in good form too. They’ll need another good performance – and better fortune, now that league points are again at stake.
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