United brush aside league leaders VCD Athletic

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Captain Sam Adams led Hastings United to a consecutive league victory with a comfortable 2-1 win over early league leaders VCD Athletic.

United accepted the challenge presented by a VCD side content to concede possession and soak up pressure. Adams opened the scoring midway through the first-half after a powerful break by Ollie Black. In the second-half, United’s Louis Rogers bravely saved a close-range Paul Vines volley before Tom Chalmers doubled the lead. VCD added gloss to the scoreline when reducing arrears with six minutes remaining.

Saturday 10th October, dry with an autumnal light blue sky, sunshine enough to produce pitch shadows and for players to shield their eyes. United are wearing claret shirts with white shorts and socks, whilst VCD are head to toe in royal blue.

After Tuesday’s victory, the ‘U’s continued with Craig Stone alongside Ryan Worrall in midfield and Jake Elliott and Marcus Goldsmith at centre-half and right-back respectively.

United kick-off and its immediately clear VCD Athletic are not too bothered about contesting possession, happy to see what happens on the break. Their 4-1-4-1 formation surprising for a team who has played four won four and are making the initial running in the league. Having possession requires patience and it takes ten minutes for United to create an opening. Chalmers turns smartly in midfield and plays a one-two with Goldsmith down the right. Chalmers at the by-line tricks his way inside the defender, is tripped from behind and falls on the ball. Somehow the referee deems the decision is handball and a VCD freekick.

United press on. Ben Pope clips a pass down the right for Chalmers to saunter onto and he frees an overlapping Goldsmith. A low cross which Adams hits first time is well saved by Nick Blue, the rebound falls to Kenny Pogue who aims for the far top corner and misses by not much.

But the dye is cast. Whatever game plan VCD have concocted is not working because there’s a United goal coming, it’s just a matter of time. Twenty-five minutes and the deadlock is broken. Black picking the ball up in his own half strides forward and plays a one-two which gets him into the area. With space running out he pulls the ball back for Adams to side foot goalward from 12 yards, striking the underside of the bar, but Adams is alert enough to follow his shot in and finish the job.

A goal down and there’s no change in approach from VCD, indeed it is United continuing to pose danger. Pope is denied by Blue who is out quickly to pick the ball off his toes after a loose back pass. Then Stone controls a deep corner on this chest and volley’s just wide. When VCD do threaten their final ball is lacking or they are repelled by United’s sharp defending across their 18-yard line.

For United, Ryan Worrall is once again United’s fulcrum with his passing, heading and tackling. The Worrall / Stone midfield axis shaping up nicely.

Half time: Hastings United 1 – 0 VCD Athletic

VCD Athletic get the second-half underway and still there’s no discernible change in formation or tactics. Yet it is the visitors with the first chance. Anthony Adesite marauds down the left and wins a corner which is floated deep to the far post. Vines hits a powerful shot which Rogers stands up to and deflects away. An opportunity out of nothing which could have led to an equaliser.

Despite this chance the game is still being controlled by United. The visitors applaud themselves when forcing the ‘U’s back into their own half but reality is, United are keeping possession and are happy to patiently probe their way around the pitch.

To prove the point an excellent Elliott break frees Chalmers whose shot is saved and deflected wide for a corner. From which there is no reprieve. The corner is met by Gary Elphick’s header which strikes the woodwork and who is on hand but Chalmers to tuck the ball home and double the lead.

Pope and Adams both have chances to add a third, finish the game off and firmly close the door. Then with six minutes remaining VCD haul themselves back into contention, the door is pushed ajar. A cross from the left, a neat cushioned header from Vines across the edge of the area and substitute Milli Hysi accurately side-footed home into the bottom corner.

There’s still time for Vines to punish United further but his shot is saved by Rogers and with that the game is up. United take the spoils and leap to fifth place in the league table.

Full time: Hastings United 2 – 1 VCD Athletic

United may have expected more from the visitors but they can only play whatever is put in front of them. The ‘U’s were patient, retained possession, dominated proceedings and fully deserved the three points.

Man of the match: Captain Sam Adams. Scored the vital opening goal and proved constantly adept at linking the midfield with attack.

Hastings United: Rogers, Black, Worrall, Elphick, Stone, Elliott, Pope, Adams, Chalmers, Goldsmith (Dixon 54’), Pogue (Capon 78’) (Unused subs: Rodari, Barlow, Mapstone)

VCD Athletic: Blue, Edwards, Probets (Fisher 73’), Okonkwo, Barry, Oshilaja, El-Mogharbel (Hysi 78’), Dawson, Vines, Adesite, Frey (Griffiths 64’) (Unused subs: Patterson)