Trophy dream ends in defeat

Sam Adams hit the crossbar with a free kick during Hastings United's defeat at home to AFC Sudbury. Picture by Terry S. Blackman
Sam Adams hit the crossbar with a free kick during Hastings United's defeat at home to AFC Sudbury. Picture by Terry S. Blackman

Hastings United’s quest to win three FA Trophy matches in the same season for the first time since 1992 ended in disappointment.

Ryman Football League Division One South high-flyers Hastings were deservedly beaten 1-0 at home to Division One North outfit AFC Sudbury this afternoon (Saturday).

It was a disappointing performance from the U’s, who struggled to get going and only really started to build up any momentum during the closing 20 minutes against a physically strong Sudbury side.

Both teams hit the crossbar and United probably had the best chance, but Sudbury were certainly the better side during a goalless first half. The visitors, in fact, struck the frame of the goal inside 15 seconds from a right wing cross by Matt Daniels.

United goalkeeper Josh Pelling did well to gather a Dave Cowley shot from outside the box during a brief but torrential downpour, while Kenny Pogue had a firm drive from inside the area beaten out by Sudbury stopper Alex Archer moments later.

Pelling clutched a Scott Mitchell shot at the second attempt and Ross Watson fired just over from inside the D for Sudbury before Sam Adams struck the top of the away crossbar with a lovely 25-yard free kick over the wall.

Daniels sent a low shot from outside the box just wide and Sudbury twice threatened in added time at the end of the first half. Pelling firstly held Sam Clarke’s shot following a corner and then Cowley couldn’t direct his effort on target having snuck in at the far post.

Sudbury, who were 5-0 winners over Crawley Down Gatwick in the previous round, landed the decisive blow in the sixth minute of the second period. Mitchell was given plenty of time to deliver an inviting cross from the left which big number nine James Baker headed past Pelling.

Clarke blazed high and wide of the near post from Baker’s knockdown before Clarke was booked for an aerial challenge which forced United captain Ben Judge to leave the field looking somewhat groggy.

Pelling saved at the feet of Baker and all of a sudden United twice went close in quick succession. Adams rounded Archer but was unable to pick out a team-mate with his cutback and Archer made a low stop to keep out Josh Hare’s header from the resulting corner.

Archer pushed aside Jordan Woodley’s long range effort low to his right and Woodley sent a free kick over the top after the referee decided that Matt Darby had been brought down just outside and not inside the box. Andy Corrigan made a great block to deny a clean through Ben Thompson at the other end in added time.

United: Pelling, Slocombe, Corrigan, Darby, Judge (Cruttwell 74), Hare, Ellis, Gilbert, Pogue, Adams, Branco (Woodley 56). Subs not used: Henson, Cumming-Bart. Attendance: 375.