Hastings United fightback undone by last gasp penalty
Hastings United Football Club’s four-match winning run was ended by a last gasp goal this afternoon (Saturday).
Chris Agutter’s side conceded an added time equaliser from the penalty spot to draw 3-3 away to Phoenix Sports having overturned a 2-0 half time deficit to lead 3-2.
Hastings remain second in the Bostik League South East Division, but are now 10 points behind leaders Cray Wanderers, who won 2-0 away to East Grinstead Town.
See also: * Hastings United ‘gathering momentum’ in pursuit of leaders* Hastings United 5, Sittingbourne 0: Dixon nets first half hat-trick in crushing win* Tottenham Hotspur debut for son of ex-Hastings United playerAgutter fielded the same starting XI as last weekend’s 5-0 win at home to Sittingbourne. Adam Lovatt, back from illness, had to settle for a place among the substitutes.
Hastings got off to an awful start, gifting mid-table Phoenix two goals in the opening 11 minutes. The sixth minute opener came when a shot from distance made its way towards the far corner and a visiting defender could only turn the ball into the net in his efforts to clear.
Five minutes later it was 2-0. Hastings goalkeeper Charlie Horlock came charging out in attempt to get a ball down the Phoenix left, but Phoenix player Lewis Clarke got there first, dinked it over him and into the vacant net.
Hastings rather huffed and puffed during the remainder of the first half, but were unable to eat into their deficit before the break. Jack Tucker headed over from a corner and a Sam Cruttwell free kick was gathered by home goalkeeper Steve Phillips.
Phoenix hit the crossbar barely a minute after the turnaround, but the introduction of Youssouf Bamba changed the game as Hastings suddenly became much more incisive.
Hastings had an effort cleared off the line, Cruttwell’s low shot was saved and Tucker fired over from a free kick, while at the other end, Horlock made an important stop with his feet in a one-on-one situation.
The visitors pulled one back in the 69th minute when Jack Dixon rose highest at the far post to score his fourth headed goal in the last two games.
Five minutes later it was 2-2 as Jordy Mongoy fired a low shot through a crowd of players into the net. Mongoy repeated the trick in the 87th minute with another terrific strike through a forest of legs to put Hastings ahead.
Just as it seemed like Hastings had pulled off an heroic turnaround, Horlock leaped up to try to deal with a cross into the away box only to knock over a Phoenix player and concede a penalty, which Alex Teniola duly converted.
Hastings almost conjured up a winner right at the death, but nobody could quite get on the end of Bamba’s ball across the face of goal.
The impressive Mongoy, who now has three goals in two games, was probably Hastings’ man of the match, although Dixon had a strong second half and Daniel Ajakaiye proved a real handful for the home defence.
Hastings: Horlock; Howlett-Mundle, Climpson (Azeez), Tucker; Fielding, Cruttwell, Adams (Bamba), Dixon, Black; Ajakaiye, Mongoy (Lovatt). Subs not used: Walker, Ibrahim. Attendance: 139.
Bostik League South East Division top half (played-points): 1 Cray Wanderers 20-51 (+25 goal difference), 2 HASTINGS UNITED 20-41 (+22), 3 Horsham 20-38 (+14), 4 Ashford United 20-36 (+18), 5 Whyteleafe 20-35 (+18), 6 Haywards Heath Town 20-33 (+9), 7 Hythe Town 20-31 (+5), 8 VCD Athletic 19-31 (+3), 9 Sevenoaks Town 20-27 (-1), 10 Phoenix Sports 19-26 (+2).