Hastings United’s footballers contested their second successive 2-2 home draw this afternoon (Saturday).
The U’s shared the points with fifth-placed Whyteleafe in a see-saw Ryman Football League Division One South contest where the visitors played the final 35 minutes with 10 men.
Tom O’Connor went straight into United’s midfield having rejoined the club during the week, while Tyrell Richardson-Brown made his first start wide on the right and Sam Cruttwell returned from injury at left-back. Richard Rose moved into midfield with Sam Adams unavailable.
On a pitch which had absorbed all the pre-match rain commendably well, the game got off to a dramatic start. Whyteleafe came close to scoring in the opening minute when Roscoe D’Sane rounded home goalkeeper Josh Pelling only to see his shot from a tight angle blocked on the line at the near post by Harvey Hanifan.
United did open the scoring two minutes later. Taser Hassan whipped in a free kick from the right and the unmarked Tim Olorunda headed home at the near post for his second goal of the season.
Whyteleafe had the bulk of the play during the remainder of the first half, particularly the longer it went on, albeit without asking too many questions of Pelling.
Ade Olorunda’s chip from approaching 40 yards floated just over Whyteleafe’s crossbar and the same player later had an angled effort blocked by away goalkeeper Sheikh Ceesay after good work from O’Connor.
At the other end, Pelling fingertipped Jordan Bird’s long range shot over the crossbar, D’Sane dragged an angled shot wide of the far post and a curling free kick by Jason Thompson flashed narrowly beyond the far upright.
An equaliser had been coming and it arrived in the 41st minute. Whyteleafe were awarded a free kick right on the edge of United’s box and Greg Andrews picked out the corner of the net with a delightful chip.
United haven’t led at half time in a home league game all season, but they had a decent chance to hit the front again in added time. Ade Olorunda got the better of his man following a long ball from his brother only to chip just over with Ceesay well off his line.
After a fairly even start to the second period, Whyteleafe went down to 10 men in the 56th minute. D’Sane was shown a straight red card following a clash with Tim Olorunda, who looked in some pain as he stayed down and was furious with D’Sane after getting to his feet.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Whyteleafe proceeded to take the game to United again. The impressive Sam Clayton wasn’t far away with a curling effort from outside the box before the visitors took a 62nd minute lead. Andrews surged forward from midfield and played a good ball through to substitute Jason Henry, who rounded Pelling and rolled the ball home.
Clayton’s shot was saved by Pelling low to his right before both sides had clear chances in a matter of seconds. Rose looked certain to score only to be thwarted by Bird’s goal-line block, but Whyteleafe went straight down the other end and Henry pulled his shot wide of the far post having rounded Pelling.
United on the whole weren’t really looking like conjuring up an equaliser, yet they got one in the 84th minute. Ceesay came out of his area to deal with Rose’s ball over the top, but could only get his chest to the ball under pressure from Richardson-Brown and substitute Evan Archibald lobbed into the unguarded net.
Whyteleafe came the closest to grabbing a winner when an overhead kick from Andrews bounced wide with Pelling scrambling across to his left. The result keeps United in 20th place having avoided defeat in all three meetings with Whyteleafe this season.
United: Pelling, Brinkhurst, Cruttwell, Rose, Ray, Hanifan (Holden 79), Richardson-Brown, T. Olorunda, A. Olorunda, O’Connor (Archibald 67), Hassan. Subs not used: Foster, Hause, Willett. Attendance: 336.
Standings (played-points): 1 Burgess Hill Town 31-81, 2 Faversham Town 35-74, 3 Merstham 35-70, 4 Folkestone Invicta 34-68, 5 Whyteleafe 35-57, 6 Worthing 35-56, 7 Herne Bay 36-52, 8 Whitstable Town 35-51, 9 Guernsey 34-49, 10 Three Bridges 34-49, 11 Chipstead 35-48, 12 Tooting & Mitcham United 35-45, 13 Carshalton Athletic 35-43, 14 South Park 30-42, 15 Sittingbourne 35-42, 16 Walton & Hersham 36-41, 17 Hythe Town 34-40, 18 Corinthian-Casuals 29-37, 19 Walton Casuals 34-37, 20 HASTINGS UNITED 35-36, 21 East Grinstead Town 35-34, 22 Redhill 32-32, 23 Ramsgate 35-31, 24 Horsham 36-30.