Hastings United Football Club’s interest in this season’s knockout competitions came to an end tonight (Monday).
For the second succesive campaign, the U’s were beaten 1-0 at home to Burgess Hill Town in round three of the Parafix Sussex Senior Challenge Cup.
Hill set up a quarter-final away to Steyning Town or Worthing courtesy of a goal from full-back Lee Harding in the 73rd minute of an uneventful contest at a breezy Pilot Field.
Sixteen places and 25 points adrift of their opponents in Ryman Football League Division One South, a big task awaited United against a Hill team which has lost just once in all competitions during a phenomenal first half of the season.
Hill made five changes and United three from their weekend starting line-ups, and the first half was fairly even. United at times enjoyed plenty of possession in the middle of the pitch only for things to invariably break down further forward.
Taser Hassan forced a low save out of Hill goalkeeper Matt Morrish at his near post and later had the ball in the net from Evan Archibald’s pass only to be flagged offside. At the other end, Pat Harding’s side-foot volley rolled wide of the far post.
Hill - who nine days previously stunned Conference Premier club Aldershot Town in the FA Trophy - were the superior side in the second half and for this reason were good value for their second win over United this term.
The visitors failed to convert two great chances to open the scoring. United goalkeeper John Sullivan firstly made a good save to deny Dan Perry following a mistake by Sean Ray and Pat Harding later dragged his shot wide from Greg Luer’s square pass when well-placed inside the box.
In between times, a goalbound effort by Callum Saunders was deflected wide by United defender Charlie Farmer and Kenny Pogue sent a low left-foot shot beyond the far post at the other end following a good ball over the top from Sam Cruttwell.
Hill grabbed their winner at the end of a counter-attack stemming from a United corner. A break down the away left ended with Rob O’Toole’s deflected shot hitting the post and rebounding kindly for Lee Harding to shoot beyond Sullivan.
Despite United introducing Ade Olorunda on his return from suspension, Hill saw the game out comfortably and Sullivan was called into action again in added time to beat out a Pat Harding shot.
United: Sullivan, Hunt, Rose, Logan, Ray, Farmer, Vickers (Cruttwell 55), Adams, Pogue (A. Olorunda 76), Archibald (Temba 81), Hassan. Subs not used: T. Olorunda, Cunnington. Attendance: 199.