Hastings United’s footballers were knocked out of the Ryman League’s Alan Turvey Trophy on penalties tonight (Tuesday).
The U’s were beaten 4-3 on spot-kicks at home to Sittingbourne after the third round tie had finished 1-1 at the end of normal time.
While the league cup is down the list of priorities for United, they would still have been kicking themselves for losing a match which they should have won both in normal time and on penalties.
The formbook would certainly have favoured United because they had already beaten Sittingbourne twice in Division One South this season and the Kent outfit had won only one of its previous 12 games in all competitions.
The first half at times was like a training game of attack against defence as United dominated possession against a Sittingbourne side which was content to get bodies behind the ball.
United came agonisingly close to taking a fifth minute lead. Tyrell Richardson-Brown put Bright Temba through on goal and he rounded goalkeeper Adam Molloy only to see his shot brilliantly cleared off the line by Stefan Wright.
Billy Medlock wasn’t far away with a driven 30-yard free kick before putting United ahead in the 19th minute. Chris Cumming-Bart’s shot was parried by Molloy low to his right and Medlock mopped up the rebound.
During the remainder of the first half Medlock had a low drive from outside the box held by Molloy and Max Hollobone flashed a long range effort just over the top, while at the other end, Josh Pelling was equal to shots from distance by Josh Wisson and Hicham Akhazzan.
It was all so comfortable for United and perhaps too much so because they seemed to switch off early in the second period and allow the opposition back into it.
United had a warning when Akhazzan turned Tom Brunt’s driven low cross over the bar from close range, but they weren’t so lucky when Sittingbourne equalised in the 56th minute. Former United midfielder Ollie Bankole exchanged passes with Miles Cornwell before rolling the ball past Pelling into the bottom corner.
Moments later Pelling pulled off a fine double save from Akhazzan and Cornwell to keep United level. Suddenly we had a game on, and United manager Garry Wilson responded by making a triple substitution, bringing on Jack Harris, Sam Cruttwell and Simon Johnson.
Harris almost had an instant impact as his shot deflected wide after Medlock burst into the box. United had most of the play during the final half-hour, but Sittingbourne stood firm and had their moments on the break as well.
Sittingbourne substitute Adam Williams glanced a very good header into the net only to be denied by an offside flag and moments later Medlock had the ball in the net at the other end, but was booked for handball.
Sam Crabb’s low shot from the edge of the box after Cruttwell skinned a pair of defenders was well held by Molloy, while Wisson’s deflected 30-yard strike whistled just wide at the other end.
With no extra-time in the league cup, the game went straight to penalties. United had prevailed on spot-kicks against Tonbridge Angels in the previous round and looked set to do so again as they led 3-1 after three kicks each. Sam Adams, Medlock and Cruttwell all scored, while Pelling saved from Tom Brunt and Jono Richardson blazed over against his old club.
But United missed their next two - Ollie Rowe’s drive being parried against the post and Richardson-Brown skying his shot - and Sittingbourne scored theirs to take it into sudden death. Sean Ray’s kick was saved by Molloy and Conrad Lee’s effort squeezed under Pelling to win it for a jubilant Sittingbourne.
United: Pelling, Crabb, Wilson, Rowe, Ray, Hollobone (Cruttwell 61), Medlock, Adams, Richardson-Brown, Temba (Harris 61), Cumming-Bart (Johnson 61). Subs not used: Foster, Rose. Attendance: 132.
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