Terry White’s reign as Hastings United manager got off to an inauspicious start tonight (Monday).
The U’s were deservedly beaten 1-0 at home to fellow Ryman Football League Division One South outfit Burgess Hill Town in round three of the Parafix Sussex Senior Challenge Cup.
Again missing influential duo Ben Judge and Trevor McCreadie through injury, United produced an uninspired performance as their interest in this season’s various knockout competitions came to a disappointing end.
There were precious few chances at either end during a fairly even and uneventful first half. The best opportunity fell to United in the 20th minute when Sam Adams picked out Tom Vickers with a fine cross from the right, but the midfielder’s far post header went straight at Hillians goalkeeper Alan Mansfield.
Mansfield had been called into action in the very first minute with a low save from Ronnie Dolan’s left-foot shot. United goalkeeper Josh Pelling was largely untroubled, although Sean Kelly was required to make an important defensive header to clear Spencer Slaughter’s dangerous cross.
The visitors were undoubtedly the better side during the second period, though, as they made it five wins out of five in 2014 and nine victories in their last 10 matches (the only blemish in that sequence being a dramatic 3-2 defeat away to United in the league on December 28).
Hillians were whiskers away from opening the scoring in the 50th minute as Max Miller headed Greg Luer’s left wing cross against the crossbar from a great position just outside the six yard box.
They did find the target, however, 10 minutes later. Miller did well to deliver an inviting cross from the byeline on the right while under pressure from Sam Cruttwell and Pat Harding made no mistake with a simple close range header.
Hillians were only denied a second moments later by an excellent fingertip save from Pelling low to his right to repel a Scott Kirkwood shot from just outside the box which seemed destined for the bottom corner.
A rasping drive by Dolan from fully 30 yards at the other end flashed just over, while Pelling made another good stop diving to his right to beat out a Miller shot. Bailo Camara went down in the away box and appealed for a penalty only to be booked for diving.
Miller fired over with a left-foot shot on the turn from 10 yards. Hillians rattled the crossbar for the second time as Luer was given plenty of time to deliver a right wing cross to the near post which Kirkwood headed against the woodwork.
United finally threatened in the 90th minute when Kelly’s header from a left wing cross by Jacob Shelton, who made his senior debut for the club as a second half substitute, was brilliantly pushed aside by Mansfield diving to his right.
United: Pelling, Darby, Cruttwell, Olorunda, Dolan (Woodley 73), Kelly, Vickers (Corrigan 64), Ellis, Camara, Pogue, Adams (Shelton 82). Subs not used: Gilbert, Lee. Attendance: 172.