Pope and Hasler help Hastings into next round of FA Cup
An arduous day of travel up the M25 proved worth it for Hastings United as they secured a place in the Second Qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup. Ben Pope's two goals, either side of a Sam Hasler double, secured a 4-0 win at Harefield.
The game was kicked into life by the Us after just four minutes, when summer recruit Dave Martin, who would be a constant threat down the left, put in an inch perfect cross on to the head of Ben Pope, who glanced his effort agonisingly on to the post, before it was scrambled away. An early warning shot from the visitors.
It would continue in this vein for another 12 minutes, with notable chances being created down the flanks by Martin and Chalmers, but coming to nothing.
However, on 16 minutes, the pressure finally paid off as a Martin cross was adjudged by the referee to have been deflected off the hand of a Harefield defender, and after a moment of hesitation, he blew to give the spot kick. Pope stepped up, and walloped his penalty into the top corner (goalkeeper's left) to give the Us a deserved advantage.
The next few minutes saw a resurgence from the hosts, with Tashan Jordan volleying narrowly over from the edge of the box, but the Us continued to create the best chances, and, with 22 minutes on the clock, Martin was again the architect, playing a ball across the face of goal, which Tom Chalmers was a whisker away from converting to double the Hastings lead.
It continued to be Hastings pressure dominating proceedings, with Pope's hold up play creating chances aplenty. The best of those was a threatening passage of pass n’ move football between him and Martin, but in the end they left it too long to let a shot go and Harefield managed to recover.
However, it wasn’t long before the boys in blue were able to celebrate again – with Hasler adding his name to the roll of honour. The ball came to him inside the Harefield box, and whilst the strike won’t go down as his finest, it had enough on it to escape the goalkeeper Mallets clutches and find the far corner. The lead doubled by the midfield maestro.
And, before there was a chance for breath to be caught, Hasler had his second and Hastings’ third. A much more triumphant finish, as he let a low fizzing effort go from distance, which took a slight flick of a defenders calf as it journeyed into the bottom corner. 3-0 before half time.
And, like after the first goal, it elicited a response from Harefield, who were unlucky not to pull one back just before the break, when, similar to the earlier described Martin cross towards TC chance, when Tasham Jordan put a cross in for Petrit Krasniqi, who narrowly missed the ball for a chance to narrow the arrears.
Krasniqi did offer the final threat of the half, but his near post effort was well saved by Louis Rogers.
Half Time : Harefield Utd 0-3 Hastings Utd
The second half didn’t quite start in a manner as frantic as the first, but it certainly saw a more balanced opening than we’d seen earlier in the day. Harefield had a period of sustained possession and pressure for the first time in the day, and the period ended with a half volley courtesy of Lewis White, which, whilst it didn’t nestle in the net, wedged itself happily between the fence behind the goal and the netting behind it.
White was the main threat of the home side once more, releasing an effort from a similar distance, but this one just over the crossbar.
And, as the clock ticked over the hour, both sides had great chances to break the second half deadlock. First Hastings, after Hasler and TC linked up well down the right hand side, which resulted in a strike by Chalmers towards the near post, which was well saved by Mallett. Harefield countered, and it took a miraculous last ditch block to deny Jordan a tap in, before the rebound was put over. Although the scoreline still read 0-3, the home side were showing much more than they had in the first half.
It felt as though there was a goal coming, and, to the delight of the traveling crowd, it was courtesy of Pope. From distance, Pope spotted Mallett off of his line, and, with the opener in his system, he tried the audacious long range lob, which Mallett got a hand to, but like Hasler's first, it wasn’t enough and soon enough Pope and Chris Agutter were high fiving whilst smiling ear to ear. A brilliant effort to put the tie beyond doubt with 65 minutes on the clock.
The game quietened down after that. The flames of a potential comeback extinguished in style by Pope, it became a much less intense affair – that is, of course, after the customary Harefield chance after a goal. Jordan the threat once more, as he forced an outstanding save out of Hastings stopper Rogers.
There was a controversial moment 74 minutes in however, as Harefield's Callum Neal made boot to head contact with Hasler. He received a caution for the offence, a fair decision based on the circumstances. Kenny Pogue also entered the book in stoppage time for a needless altercation after a foul.
Just after the foul, a treble change occurred for the Us, including the departure of Hasler. But the headline was, without doubt, the return of Lanre Azeez in a Us jersey. In his signature 17. He came on to the right flank and immediately the pace he injected added a new lease of life to the game. All Us fans will agree how great it is to see him back on the Hastings wing.
Speaking of Hastings fans, a massive shoutout to the incredible supporters who followed the team to Middlesex. In full voice for 90 minutes as per usual, inspiring the team to victory.
Full Time : Harefield Utd 0-4 Hastings Utd
Hastings – Rogers, Black, Elphick (Greig 75′), Stone, Chalmers, Adams ©, Dixon, Pope (Pogue 75′), Hasler (Azeez 75′), Jenkins, Martin
Unused subs – Simmons, Penn, Turner, Scott
Hastings goals – Pope, 16′ (P), 65′ ; Hasler, 34′, 36′
Att : 350