Hastings United survived a scare before edging past lower grade opposition in the FA Cup today (Saturday).
Ryman Football League Division One South side United needed to produce a fine comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 away to Macron Store Sussex County Football League Division One leaders Eastbourne United AFC in an entertaining preliminary round tie.
Hastings named an unchanged side from that which beat Hythe Town in the league five days previously and it was they who had the game’s first real chance with Dave Cook firing just over.
Eastbourne opened the scoring, however, in the 13th minute courtesy of a player who began the season with Hastings. Sean Ray’s attempted back header was intercepted by Jason Taylor, who placed a nice finish beyond goalkeeper Josh Pelling.
After Taser Hassan flashed a dangerous ball across the face of the Eastbourne goal and Wes Tate shot wide of Pelling’s near post, Taylor went from scorer to provider of Eastbourne’s second goal in the 25th minute. Taylor cut in in from the left on a driving run and slipped the ball through for Lucas Mann to slot past Pelling.
Staring embarrassment squarely in the face, Hastings responded extremely well. After Ronnie Dolan saw a snap-shot saved, Ade Olorunda turned his man inside the box and lashed a left-foot shot into the roof of the net to pull one back in the 27th minute.
Hastings should have been back on level terms barely a minute later. The again impressive Olorunda got away down the left and squared for striker partner Frankie Sawyer, who skewed his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
The visitors did equalise in the 36th minute and Olorunda was again heavily involved. He backed into the defender and laid the ball off for Dolan, whose mishit shot fell to Sawyer. Although Sawyer’s first effort was stopped, he scrambled the ball home at the second attempt.
The momentum was with Hastings at the end of the first half and they had a great chance to take the lead early in the second period, but home goalkeeper Russell Tanner made a fingertip save from a clean through Sawyer. Olorunda’s firm header went straight at Tanner moments later.
Although Hastings probably had more of the play with the wind at their backs, they needed a brilliant tip over by Pelling from Ashley Jarvis approaching the midway point in the second half to keep them on terms.
Olorunda fired over on the turn from a Richard Rose throw and it was from another throw that Hastings grabbed an 80th minute winner. Sam Cruttwell’s long delivery from the left eventually dropped to Cook, who managed to get a shot away which rolled into the net.
Eastbourne gave an excellent account of themselves, though, and kept pushing all the way to the end. Pelling made a good stop with his legs from Jarvis and then held a header from the same player.
Hastings went down to 10 men as the clock ticked into added time after Tim Olorunda was shown a second yellow card for handball, but they held firm to set up a trip to Whyteleafe in first round qualifying on Saturday September 13.
Hastings’s scheduled league game away to East Grinstead Town on Tuesday night now won’t take place because Grinstead have an FA Cup replay instead.
Hastings: Pelling, Rose, Cruttwell, T. Olorunda, Ray, Bankole (Adams 63), Cook (Johnson 81), Dolan, A. Olorunda, Sawyer, Hassan (Masters 90). Subs not used: King, Fayers.