Hastings United’s cup involvement for the 2017/18 season was ended by opposition from the Football League tonight (Monday).
Bostik League Division One South side Hastings were beaten 2-0 at home to League Two club Crawley Town in round three of the Parafix Sussex Senior Challenge Cup.
Both the goals came during the first half as Crawley advanced to a quarter-final tie away to Eastbourne Borough in the new year.
Hastings fielded the same starting line-up which began their last fixture against Whyteleafe nine days previously, while Crawley changed their entire starting XI from the weekend league defeat at Crewe Alexandra.
All seven substitutes at Crewe began the match and Crawley manager Harry Kewell said he fielded a ‘good squad’.
The difference in playing levels between the clubs was certainly in evidence during the first half as Crawley controlled the game, dominating possession and finding pockets of space seemingly at will.
Hastings stuck to their principles of trying to play out from the back, but Crawley pressed high and made it difficult for them, frequently winning the ball back quickly after they lost it.
Crawley opened the scoring in just the sixth minute. Dennon Lewis delivered a left wing corner to the near post and Josh Lelan’s glancing header bounced into the far corner of the net.
Arjan Tajbakhsh flashed an angled drive wide of Hastings goalkeeper Charlie Horlock’s far post and later delivered a low ball from the right which was turned against the near post by the sliding Ibrahim Meite.
Hastings had a couple pf promising moments of their own. Davide Rodari fired a well-struck left-footed shot just wide and Calum Davies looked to be in on goal following a good pass by Dayshonne Golding, but Lelan arrived with a well-timed challenge as he was about to shoot.
Crawley doubled their advantage with a goal of real quality in the 37th minute. Panutche Camara produced a sublime flick to free Meite inside the box and he unselfishly squared the ball back to Camara to apply a simple finish.
Shortly before the end of the first half, Camara saw a low left-footed shot well saved by Horlock at his near post and Tajbakhsh flashed a well-struck effort just wide.
Crawley seemed to take their foot off the pedal in the second half and Hastings came far more into the game. In fact, Crawley stopper Yusuf Mersin was the busier of the two goalkeepers after the turnaround, making five saves of note, all of them from shots from outside the box.
Lewis had a shot smartly saved by Horlock at his near post and moments later at the other end, a Davies effort was pushed away by Mersin low to his left.
Horlock used his feet to keep out another Camara shot before Sam Cruttwell’s fierce 25-yard drive was palmed aside by Mersin diving to his right. Moments later Ansu Janneh’s strike was repelled by Mersin low to his left.
Jack Dixon’s low drive was well held by Mersin, who later made a good stop low to his left from a Davies shot after a good pass by Cruttwell. Seconds after the first of those two saves, Moussah Sanoh drove just wide from distance at the other end.
Sanoh also shot just wide of the near post after turning inside a couple of challenges, while Cruttwell’s added time free kick narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Hastings: Horlock, Pritchard, Beale, Lovatt (Dixon 66), Rowe, Climpson, Rodari (Ebuzoene 71), Cruttwell, Davies, Janneh (Adams 66), Golding. Subs not used: Vickers, Whyborne. Attendance: 169.