Hastings United’s footballers came from 3-1 down to earn a 3-3 draw at home to South Park last night (Monday).
But the U’s would have gone away thinking one point really ought to have been three having carved out plenty of chances in a richly entertaining Ryman Football League Division One South encounter.
United boss Dom Di Paola made five changes to the starting line-up from Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home to Walton Casuals, largely due to the short space of time between the games, particularly with the opposition not having played at the weekend.
In an open contest full of attacking football, United fell behind in only the fifth minute. Chris Smith was allowed to run on to a Nathan Ayling throughball before rolling his finish past Josh Pelling in the home goal.
After Joe Shelley headed over from Sam Cruttwell’s free kick, United levelled in the 12th minute. A defensive header fell to Sam Adams and the home captain drove forward before burying a cracking strike into the corner of the net from 25 yards.
Another Cruttwell free kick was headed just wide by Shelley before South Park retook the lead in the 18th minute. Smith produced a splendid long range finish of his own over Pelling and into the roof of the net for his second of the night.
Ade Olorunda and Kenny Pogue had shots saved by away goalkeeper Keiran Campbell, and Olorunda also fired wide, prior to Reigate-based South Park going 3-1 up in the 32nd minute. Smith produced a great piece of skill to beat Marc Pullan near the byeline before picking out the far corner with a fine finish from the tightest of angles to complete his hat-trick.
Campbell pulled off a brilliant double save from Pogue and Arron Hopkinson, and stopped another Pogue effort a couple of minutes later, but United deservedly pulled one back in first half added time. Charlie Farmer got his boot to Cruttwell’s right wing corner and the ball deflected kindly for Pogue to turn home from close range.
The edge of the seat feel to the game continued after the break. Pelling saved from Keiran Lavery before United levelled in the 53rd minute when Cruttwell’s free kick bounced up for Farmer to head into the bottom corner.
More goals seemed a virtual certainty at that stage as both sides looked far better in attack than defence. And although eight places and eight points below their opponents in the table, United definitely came the closest to conjuring up a winner.
Hopkinson blazed a great chance over the bar, Olorunda and the again impressive Adams saw goalbound efforts blocked, Kevin Keehan was thwarted by Campbell when played in by Adams and Taser Hassan shot narrowly wide from outside the box, but it wasn’t to be.
United: Pelling, Hunt, Cruttwell, Keehan (Vickers 75), Pullan, Farmer, Shelley, Adams, A. Olorunda, Hopkinson (Hassan 81), Pogue (Woodley 81). Subs not used: T. Olorunda, Ray. Attendance: 246.