Hastings held at home in FA Cup

Dee Okojie opened the scoring for Hastings
Dee Okojie opened the scoring for Hastings

HASTINGS United twice let slip a lead to draw 2-2 at home to Hitchin Town in the FA Cup.

The teams will meet again on Monday night at Hitchin’s Top Field ground to decide who progresses from this third qualifying round tie.

The match may have produced four goals and had its fair share of incident, but it never really flowed and for long spells became decidedly ragged as neither side stamped any real authority on proceedings at The Pilot Field.

Hastings enjoyed more of the play in the opening exchanges and were gifted the lead on 11 minutes when Josh Bickerstaff made a complete hash of dealing with Bailo Camara’s pass.

The ball ran loose to Dee Okojie who drilled a low shot across Bart Pedrycz whose questionable positioning made for a straightforward finish.

The lead did not last long though because just three minutes later John Frendo scored with an exquisite free kick from the top of the D.

Bradley Goldberg stung the palms of Pedrycz from distance and was only inches away from getting his head on a cross to the far post from Jack Dixon. Danny Ellis then should have done better after the Hitchin keeper had flapped at a corner but his shot comfortably cleared the crossbar.

The visitors continued to offer the occasional threat and Matt Armstrong-Ford did well to gather at the feet of Ieuan Lewis. Moments later Luke Gregson dragged his shot well wide of the near post.

The U’s regained the lead just two minutes into the second half with Goldberg applying the finishing touch after Okojie had touched on a cross from the right.

Lee Carey then unleashed a sweetly-struck volley from 25 yards which Pedrycz fisted clear.

The Canaries should have levelled the tie on the hour mark but Louis Lee miscued from six yards out. A couple of minutes later, however, substitute Zak Burke stabbed home after being played in by Frendo.

Both teams went for the win in the closing stages with Hastings particularly keen to avoid a long Monday night trek.

Pedrycz was called upon to keep out a curling effort from Goldberg before Dixon might have done better from Matt Whitehead’s delivery.

Hastings: Armstrong-Ford, Dixon, Whitehead, Carey, Ray, Jirbandey, Ellis (Vickers 76), Crellin, Camara, Okojie (Attwood 68), Goldberg. Subs not used: Richardson, Holland.

Hitchin: Pedrycz, Fontenelle, Lincoln, Stewart, Gilbert, Lee, Lewis, Gregson, Delderfield, Frendo, Bickerstaff (Burke 50). Subs not used: Leach, McGovern, Ibrahim, Webb, Beckett.

Referee: Matt Eva (Farnham). Attendance: 459.