Hastings United’s Okojie - I almost fluffed winning penalty

Dee Okojie scores the winning penalty. Picture by Tony Coombes Photography
Dee Okojie scores the winning penalty. Picture by Tony Coombes Photography

Hastings United’s Dee Okojie must have breathed a sigh of relief after seeing his penalty send the club through to the third round of the FA Cup, especially after he changed his mind at the last minute.

The 23-year-old scored the decisive penalty that booked Hastings’ spot in the next stage and a meeting with Championship outfit Middlesbrough, but revealed a flutter of indecision as he stepped up to take the spot kick almost saw him miss the target.

Okokie said, “Before I took it, I’d decided I was going to go to the other corner because everyone else had gone to the ‘keeper’s left, but I changed my mind at the last minute. Luckily it still went in!

“I tried to keep as calm as possible and concentrate on hitting the target. People who know me know that I’m quite a laid-back person and I just tried to take myself out of the situation and not let the occasion get bigger than me.”

Okojie, who came on as a second-half substitute, also praised the 4,028-strong crowd for lifting the players but insisted the focus will now turn back to their league campaign and a clash with Thurrock next weekend.

“The crowd were amazing. They pushed us to extra time and, even though I came on as a substitute, I was tired but they helped me get through it and I’m very grateful to them.

“Obviously Middlesbrough is a huge game and when the time comes, I’m sure the manager will pick the right team. Until then, we need to pick up our league campaign, which is also really important to us.”

The forward, who was unfortunate to miss out on a place in the starting line-up for the replay, will no doubt be vying for a start when Hastings travel north to face Middlesbrough in the first weekend of January.