FOOTBALL: United In Cruise Mode
On a cold afternoon last Saturday Hastings United consolidated their second place in the Bostik League with a 5-0 home victory over Sittingbourne. All five goals came in the first half, including a hat-trick of headers by midfielder Jack Dixon.
Goal celebration last Saturday: Jordy Mongoy is mobbed after spectacular strike
PICTURE: Scott White
Manager Chris Agutter was serving a one match touchline ban for his indiscretion in approaching the referee in the aftermath of the Merstham cup match in November, and he watched the game from the stand. Cold it may have been, but he will have been warmed inside by the team’s performance, not least by the quality shown by his defenders, both in repelling opposition attacks and in retaining possession and building moves from the back. The trio of Jamal Howlett-Mundle, Tom Climpson and Jack Tucker were both individually and collectively impressive, and apart from one smart save from a free-kick late in the second half, goalkeeper Charlie Horlock had nothing to do other than clearing his lines. It’s over three and a half games (over 300 minutes) since United last conceded a goal.
In midfield Sam Adams, Sam Cruttwell and Jack Dixon showed equal quality and control with intelligent positioning and a range of accurate passing, giving teenage wing-backs Ollie Black and Jamie Fielding plenty of opportunity to get forward. Up front Daniel Akajaiye and Jordy Mongoy kept running, and both also got on the score-sheet – Mongoy’s goal a solo effort as he bamboozled defenders out on the left wing, then drove the ball in from a tight angle. Other goals came from aerial supremacy at set pieces, Tucker and Dixon to the fore.
In the second half United stepped off the gas and went into cruise mode. Adams and Cruttwell were withdrawn, presumably to keep them fresh for tougher assignments to come. Next up is a tricky away game at Barnehurst against Phoenix Sports, followed by the hosting of Whyteleafe, currently lying third in the table and having recorded victories over the ‘U’s in both league and cup games earlier this season. Revenge would be sweet.
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