Pre-season concludes with defeat in low-key finale

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As the planned visit of Tooting & Mitcham on 7th August has been cancelled (due to T&M’s involvement in the FA Cup extra preliminary round), United’s pre-season fixtures came to a premature end with a loss to Premier Division Carshalton Athletic. Two early goals conceded were further compounded by an own-goal before half-time. United, shorn of several first-team players due to absence or precaution, battled manfully but struggled to create any sort of rhythm against their resolute opponents.

Saturday 31st July, a 3pm kick-off. The day is dry and warm with glimpses of sunshine and blue sky through the clouds. The threatened rain and lightning hasn’t materialised. Those doom and gloom merchants who predict the weather forecast wouldn’t win any medals for their, well, weather forecasting. After the heady celebrations of Sam Adams’ testimonial on Tuesday evening, the Pilot Field atmosphere is more sombre, a tad of hangover in the air.

United are wearing their home colours of claret shirts with white shorts and socks, with Carshalton in dazzling fluorescent lime shirts and shorts both with a black trim, and black socks. Jack Dixon is United’s captain with Adams absent.

Carshalton kick off though it is United who maintain the ball for the opening couple of minutes. Kenny Pogue, Freddie Warren, Gary Elphick and Marcus Goldsmith are all involved. Possession only ends after Goldsmith plays a pass into the area to find the clever run of Warren whose shot is saved by the feet of the goalkeeper before being scrambled clear. A positive start for the ‘U’s.

The visitors follow suit with their time on the ball before Harry Ottoway toe-pokes wide from a low cross. United then have some forty passes between themselves while Carshalton sit off in their four-three-three formation and everyone in their own half. There is little space to exploit and eventually the ball runs out of play.

Perhaps this period of possession lulls United into a false sense of security as Carshalton take the lead from their next foray forward. A corner is hit very deep to their player on the far post who heads the ball back across ball and centre-half Luke Read heads home.

Almost immediately and its nearly two. A pass inside Goldsmith enables a low cross to arrive at Ottoway’s feet twelve yards out but pressure from an Ollie Black last-ditch challenge puts him off and he shoots wide. He has to wait less than a minute for his goal. Black’s misdirected pass across the penalty area gives the ball to Ottoway in pretty much the same spot he shot wide from, and this time he makes no mistake, calmly stroking the ball into the bottom corner.

The half continues in the same vein. Carshalton’s formation is stifling and whenever United gain a promising position the visitors regain possession and break at speed. As half-time approaches the Robins put the game out of reach. From defence the ball is switched long and wide from left to right and the low cross is diverted into his own net via the knee of the unfortunate Elphick.

Half-time: Hastings United 0 – 3 Carshalton Athletic

Carshalton are kept waiting a few minutes before United retake the field, ears ringing perhaps. United kick off and the game settles into the same pattern. The visitors are a big strong side with a compact shape, battle hardened for sure.

Young Warren is replaced by young Freddie Legg who is immediately into the action with his pace and trickery. His pass inside to Knory Scott is moved onto Dixon in the area, he has a half a chance to shoot but is swiftly crowded out. It’s been that sort of game.

Three goals to the good and the visitors are more than content with their afternoon’s work. They go close again, striking the crossbar with a long-range effort, and otherwise keep the ‘U’s at arm’s length.

United keep plugging away though, seeking a consolation. Ryan Worrall shoots over and then a mix up between Pogue and Elphick means neither makes decent contact with a good cross to the far post.

Full-time: Hastings United 0 – 3 Carshalton Athletic

No doubt not the afternoon envisaged when the visitors were booked for this friendly. At full-strength in a competitive match this would be a good match up, today it’s a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ following Tuesday night.

Still, onwards and upwards as we look forward to the new season starting Saturday 14th August, at home to Herne Bay, kick off 3pm.

Hastings United: Rogers, Black, Worrall, Elphick, Chalmers, Dixon [c], Goldsmith (82’ trialist), Pogue, Warren (54’ Legg), Grieg (75’ Turner), Scott (63’ Bates)

Attendance: 243

Bob Quinn
Twitter: @BobJQuinn