Ramsgate vs Hastings United – Isthmian League
United paid the price for a stuttering first-half performance against a competitive Ramsgate who ran out 3 – 2 winners, despite a much-improved second-half showing from the ‘U’s. The home side took the lead on seven minutes and though Knory Scott equalised, the Rams responded in kind and pulled further in front to lead 3 – 1 at half-time. United took the game to Ramsgate in the second-half, monopolised possession and peppered their goal with shots and headers. All to no avail. Ramsgate’s goalkeeper Jacob Russell was in inspired form. Kenny Pogue pulled a goal back with ten minutes remaining but United were unable to find an elusive equaliser.
Saturday 28th August, a 3pm kick-off on a predominantly cloudy day. The sun only occasionally poking out its head. There’s a swirling breeze too and the threat of rain. United are in sky-blue shirts and socks with white shorts, while Ramsgate are in a red and white concoction. The pitch is artificial, it’s green and has the appearance of grass but that is where the comparison ends.
United get us underway and boss possession for the opening five minutes, pinging the ball around to feet and instantly retrieving control when Ramsgate get a foot in. This positive start counts for nothing. Sam Adams appears to be (he is!) fouled from behind in the centre-circle when looking to set United moving forward. The referee deems the tackle fair and waves play-on. The ‘U’s are out of position and Ramsgate break down the left, a low cross into the six-yard area is side-footed home by centre-forward Jordan Chiedozie. After a controlled start United find themselves a goal down. Worse, Adams was injured in the tackle and has to be helped off the pitch, he is replaced by Scott.
Ramsgate have the wind at their backs and in their sails too. Louis Rogers is called upon to claim a header, then Chiedozie’s shot from an angle is deflected and Roger’s has to react quickly to save at his near post.
Midway through the first-half Ben Pope has a header saved by Russell for a corner, played short for Sam Hasler to shoot from the edge of the area which is blocked. United look good in possession and have responded positively to going behind, but equally Ramsgate look dangerous on the break.
An equaliser for United arrives on 33 minutes. Ollie Black’s long throw into the area causes a melee, the ball is battled for and won by Tom Chalmers who sets up Craig Stone. Stone’s shot is saved by the goalkeeper’s legs, but Scott picks up the pieces and scores with a low shot through a crowd of players. It is Scott’s first United goal, and he is delighted.
Parity is short-lived. Just five minutes later another tussle in midfield goes the home team’s way, resulting in a corner. The cross is headed high into the air and Rogers is unable to force his way through the crowd to punch clear. Instead the ball drops in the six-yard area and Jamie Coyle has a tap-in. Two minutes later and Ramsgate forge further ahead. Another break down the left, another low cross into the danger area, missed by everyone but fired home at the far post by the onrushing Joshua Ajayi.
It has been Ramsgate’s half. They have put in a shift and put themselves about to disrupt the ‘U’s, they’ve been happy to soak up pressure and break quickly.
Half-time: Ramsgate 3 – 1 Hastings United
Ramsgate restart the game and United have work to do. They’ve lost their captain and are two goals adrift. Lloyd Dawes has entered the fray as a replacement for Scott, who himself was an earlier substitute for Adams.
There is an immediate urgency to United’s play. Hasler’s shot is deflected wide, then Pope’s overhead kick is plucked out of the air by Russell. Dawes, who has not played for over a year, takes up the mantle. A ball played into his feet is flicked around a defender, he catches up with his own pass and shoots low from the edge of the area which Russell superbly tips around the post at full stretch. Minutes later Dawes collects a pass from Pope and weaves into the area past two defenders. He’s about to pull the trigger when a last-ditch tackle takes the ball off his toe.
Plenty of endeavour from the ‘U’s with the bounce of the ball not quite running for them, or they do not take best advantage of a good position. Two cases in point. Chalmers wins the ball in midfield and frees Pope for a run into the area. There is space in front of him, but the striker shoots early and wide. A minute later Dawes plays a great pass to Pope down the right and he hits an enticing ball across the six-yard area but there is no-one in blue arriving.
As we enter the final quarter United force four successive corners. Stone’s header is saved from the first, Pope’s shot is saved from the second, from the third Dawes’ claims for a penalty are waved away, and from the fourth Stone’s looping shot lands on the roof of the net. The pressure is building but time is running out and Ramsgate are defending for their lives to hold firm. With ten minutes remaining Hasler’s head meets a lovely Dave Martin cross but it shaves the post, a whisker wide.
The goal United’s second-half performance deserves finally arrives with seven minutes to go. For once an Ollie Black long throw ricochets to the ‘U’s benefit. Pogue controls the ball and fires home from eight yards to reduce the deficit.
It feels like there’s enough time left for another goal. Chalmers continues to run his heart out and retrieves the ball for Dixon. His pass forward is superbly controlled by Pogue and he finds Pope, central and just outside the penalty area. It’s the best chance of the half, the doors to the last chance saloon are open, snatched at and blazed over. Hands on heads.
There’s still time for Hasler to shoot narrowly wide from distance, and for an off-balance Dawes to head over before the referee blows his whistle and the game is over. Ramsgate celebrate, they got their noses in front in the first-half and held on to what they had. United’s players are on their haunches, wondering how they didn’t at least snatch a point following their second-half bombardment.
Full-time: Ramsgate 3 – 2 Hastings United
Hastings United: Rogers, Black, Elphick, Stone, Chalmers, Dixon, Pope, Adams [c] (Scott 10’), Hasler, Jenkins (Pogue 64’), Martin
Ramsgate: Russell, Aboagye, Williams, Prescott, Olopade, Chiedozie, Ajayi (Chapman 90’), Peck (Baker-Moran 78’), Coyle, McIntyre, Jadama
United goals: Scott (33’), Pogue (83’)
Ramsgate goals: Chiedozie (7’), Coyle (38’), Ajayi (40’)