Hastings held to frustrating draw
Hastings United Football Club slipped out of the play-off places after being held to a frustrating draw this afternoon (Saturday).
The U’s had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Ramsgate in their final away game of the Ryman Football League Division One South season despite producing an impressive performance.
United were by some way the better side on a cold and showery afternoon in south east Kent, but after having two goals disallowed, hitting the crossbar from a penalty and the post with a free kick, it wasn’t their day.
The first disallowed goal came in the opening two minutes. Ollie Rowe’s header from a Sam Cruttwell free kick slid underneath Ramsgate goalkeeper Luke Watkins low to his left and was stabbed in by Zac Attwood, but the offside flag was already up.
United deservedly went ahead, however, in the 18th minute. Jack McLean turned his marker on the away left and pulled the ball back for Sam Cole, whose first time shot was fumbled into the net by Watkins.
Cruttwell was just off target from outside the area and Attwood hooked narrowly wide on the turn following an Adams corner, while at the other end, Wayne Wilson sent a well-struck volley just over.
Ramsgate equalised in somewhat fortunate fashion on the half-hour mark. United goalkeeper Joe Taylor made a good save from Kane Rowland’s header, but Simon Johnson’s attempted clearance struck Wilson and looped into the net.
United had a second goal chalked off 10 minutes later, the offside flag this time denying Adams, who beat Watkins with a splendid header from an equally good Cruttwell cross.
Chris Cumming-Bart shot just wide after a terrific run by McLean as United were on the front foot at the start of the second period, despite now kicking into the breeze, but Ramsgate took the lead in the 52nd minute.
Aaron Quain’s right wing free kick was tipped over by Taylor and from the resulting Wilson left wing corner, Luke Wheatley buried a powerful header at the far post.
United were whiskers away from an equaliser in the 60th minute, Adams hitting the outside of the post with a low free kick from just outside the box.
They again hit the woodwork four minutes later. The referee pointed to the spot after Richard Davies went down in the home box and Cole blasted the resulting penalty against the top of the crossbar.
United finally broke through in the 70th minute. McLean lifted a lovely little ball through for substitute Bright Temba to slot past Watkins and score United’s 98th league goal of the season.
Cruttwell’s firm free kick was well beaten out by Watkins, while a goalbound Tom Loynes shot at the other end was stopped by an important block from Rowe.
An Adams free kick from 25 yards was superbly saved by Watkins low to his right. Moments later the same player’s corner struck the crossbar and McLean’s shot in the immediate aftermath was superbly blocked near the line by Ramsgate full-back Jake Mackenzie.
A United winner seemed highly likely at that stage as they were piling on the pressure, but they didn’t come close to scoring in the final quarter-of-an-hour as Ramsgate held out.
United now one place and one point outside the final play-off spot, which is now held by Corinthian-Casuals, with one game remaining. United are at home to ninth-placed Herne Bay.
United: Taylor, Davies, Cole, Johnson, Smith, Rowe, Cumming-Bart (Temba 53), Adams, Attwood, Cumming-Bart, McLean (Richardson-Brown 84). Subs not used: Wilson, Serbony, Ray.
Ryman Division One South top seven (played 45 matches unless stated): 1 Folkestone Invicta (44) 108pts, 2 Dorking Wanderers (44) 87, 3 Hythe Town 87, 4 Worthing 85, 5 Corinthian-Casuals 82, 6 HASTINGS UNITED 81, 7 Faversham Town 80.
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