Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Tale in Hastings

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 20 October 2012 at The Pilot Field
Hastings United 3 Blackfield & Langley 0
FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round.  A step 3 Isthmian Premier side at home to a step 5 Wessex League
Lifetime list no. 486 and I am here (one of four FA Cup games at unvisited grounds) because of the result of the Hanwell Town v Oxhey Jets game last Tuesday.  See last post for details – it’s random!
Pre-match preparation
I saw Hastings win their replay in the previous round at Top Field, Hitchin.  They are a strong and well-organised side, dangerous at set pieces. They’d beaten Chatham Town (at home) and Staines Town (away) in the earlier rounds.  Blackfield & Langley started in the Extra Preliminary Round and had successive home wins over Portchester, Downton and Almondsbury before away wins at Fareham Town and Sholing.
This match in one sentence
After a nervy start, an assured and controlled performance from Hastings to get the win with a minimum of fuss and bother.
So what?
Another boost to the Hastings coffers but more importantly, a ball in the velvet bag for the First Round Proper.
The drama unfolds
Blackfield & Langley made a somewhat nervy start, and although Hastings initially looked the better side, they were hesitant too, in front of the crowd of 800.  Hastings often play the ball from the back through either player-manager Sean Ray or Josh Jirbandey, allowing the full-backs to push forward.  (See, I do notice football-related things sometimes, not just the pies...)  The first "Oooh!" of the game came from a through ball from the latter to pick out an intelligent run by Bradley Goldberg.  His cross landed on the roof of the net.  Here's an early scene-setter clip.

Right-winger Ekow Elliot was the visitors' most threatening player in the opening exchanges. He was giving Matt Whitehead plenty to think about and after fifteen minutes he left Whitehead on the floor before getting tripped by Jirbandey for a clear penalty.  Ray gave Whitehead an ear-bending as a bonus.Elliot took the penalty himself ...

The early B&L penalty - don't be leaning back at the point of impact ...

... or else this happens.  Miles over!
Deflation followed deflation because in two more minutes, Hastings were ahead.  Ray, just like he had done for the winning goal at Hitchin, won the header from a corner and sent the ball goalbound.  It was blocked on the line but Zac Attwood was there to bundle in the rebound.  1-0

Here's a second clip as Blackfield & Langley try unsuccessfully to repair the damage.

Whitehead's day was getting better and he had a significant part in the second goal after 26 minutes.  His opposing full-back fell leaving him with space to head for the byeline and lay on an easy goal for Bradley Goldberg.  He has scored in every round played so far.  2-0

B&L's number 11 Paul Preston deserved a goal for a magnificent run from the edge of his own area.  A last-ditch block took just enough pace off the ball to make it an easy save and Hastings reached the interval with a two-goal cushion.  2-0 at half-time

Here's the third goal, with an element of deja-vu as Ray heads in Lee Carey's corner.  52 minutes on the clock, and that was that as far as drama and uncertainty was concerned.  3-0

The home side saw out the rest of the game.  They were able to keep possession for long periods.  Dave Ewan could and should have scored a consolation, but equally Hastings could have had a fourth if they had been more ruthless up front.  It was a very effective performance against their lower-ranking opponents, and the only question is whether they would have responded differently if they had conceded that early penalty goal.  I took one final clip.  Final score 3-0

The programme

Something random
A pier review:
It's a few days over two years since a fire did this to Hastings Pier
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Three goals and a three-goal game adds a bit more value to the pot.  End-of-season total is expected to be around £520 ... so far.  Any more pledges out there, please?
What Next?
Heading to Jutland in Denmark on Friday for a few days and hoping to get four or five games in.  However, the original plan has already been disrupted by a fixture switch involving Viborg.  In the meantime, maybe something local on Tuesday night if work commitments allow.  Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for the latest news!

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