United denied by late leveller

Steve Brinkhurst opened the scoring for Hastings United in the 2-2 draw at home to Three Bridges this afternoon. Picture courtesy Angela Brinkhurst
Steve Brinkhurst opened the scoring for Hastings United in the 2-2 draw at home to Three Bridges this afternoon. Picture courtesy Angela Brinkhurst
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Hastings United’s footballers were denied a valuable victory by an added time goal this afternoon (Saturday).

The U’s had to settle for a 2-2 draw at home to Three Bridges after conceding a 93rd minute equaliser and they’ve fallen to 20th in Ryman Football League Division One South as a result.

In fact, United led twice in the second half thanks to goals from Steve Brinkhurst and Taser Hassan only for mid-table Bridges - whose line-up included former United players Jamie Crellin and Matt Whitehead - to hit back on both occasions.

There wasn’t much to choose between the teams during the first half on a grey afternoon at The Pilot Field, although United - who gave a first start to centre-back Alex Hause - certainly came closest to breaking the deadlock.

Twice United hit the woodwork before the break, firstly from a lovely 14th minute free kick by Sam Adams and nine minutes later from Hassan’s low angled shot following a mistake in the Bridges right-back area.

United also had a decent opportunity five minutes before the break when Kyle Holden shot narrowly wide from an inviting position just inside the box after Brinkhurst and Harvey Hanifan combined in the build-up.

At the other end, Allan Tait fired wide of the far post from an acute angle, United goalkeeper Josh Pelling parried a well-struck 25-yard effort by Tony Garrod and Sean Ray made a couple of timely interventions. Ray also headed straight at Bridges stopper Kieron Thorp from an early Adams corner.

Bridges enjoyed the lion’s share of the play during the second half and it was their turn to be denied by the frame of the goal within two minutes of the restart as Tait turned a low cross from the left against the crossbar from six yards.

United drew first blood against the run of play in the 55th minute. Evan Archibald found space on the left and pulled the back for Adams, whose shot was saved, but Brinkhurst was on hand to roll home the rebound.

Sam MacVicar’s downward header was gathered by Pelling and Bridges captain Lee Carney sent a low just just wide from outside the box before Carney levelled in the 78th minute with a 25-yard thunderbolt into the corner of the net.

MacVicar chipped just over, but United went back in front in the 84th minute. The jet-heeled Tyrell Richardson-Brown pulled the ball back from the byeline on the right within three minutes of coming on for his senior debut and Hassan picked out the bottom corner with a splendid curling shot from just inside the area.

Richardson-Brown brought a save out of Thorp before Bridges nabbed a point in the nick of time. Tait’s mishit shot was stabbed home from close range by MacVicar. There was a minute’s applause prior to kick-off for former United chairman Peter Huggins.

United: Pelling, Hanifan (A. Olorunda 61), R. Rose, Holden, Ray, Hause, Brinkhurst, T. Olorunda (Pogue 83), Archibald (Richardson-Brown 81), Adams, Hassan. Subs not used: Hall, D. Rose. Attendance: 287.

Standings (played-points): 1 Burgess Hill Town 29-77, 2 Faversham Town 34-71, 3 Merstham 33-67, 4 Folkestone Invicta 32-64, 5 Whyteleafe 33-53, 6 Worthing 33-52, 7 Whitstable Town 34-48, 8 Herne Bay 34-48, 9 Chipstead 33-45, 10 Carshalton Athletic 32-43, 11 Guernsey 32-43, 12 Three Bridges 32-43, 13 Tooting & Mitcham United 34-42, 14 Sittingbourne 34-42, 15 South Park 28-39, 16 Hythe Town 32-37, 17 Corinthian-Casuals 29-37, 18 Walton Casuals 33-37, 19 Walton & Hersham 32-36, 20 HASTINGS UNITED 33-35, 21 East Grinstead Town 34-34, 22 Ramsgate 33-31, 23 Horsham 33-30, 24 Redhill 30-29.