Hastings survive Hill scare

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The U’s hang on despite late Burgess Hill resurgence

A trip to the west of the county proved to be a fruitful one for Hastings Utd as they defeated Burgess Hill by 2-3. However, when you realise that the U’s were 0-3 up after 70 minutes, you can visualise how different the final scoreline could have been. The goals came courtesy of Martin, Hasler and Black.

Myself and my fellow club officials received a lovely welcome by a man who’s been at Burgess Hill in one capacity or another since 1949. We had a lovely cuppa and a chat.

In terms of the football…As is a Hallmark of the team, they were eager to push and get on the front foot early. Martin was the main source of attacking threat, giving the defenders problems with his unpredictable footwork. The first real effort came four minutes in, when Tom Chalmers had an effort from 25 yards out, but it went well over the bar.

However, Burgess Hill were determined to push the U’s back and prevent them from settling. They had the first shot on target shortly after TCs effort, with Max Miller putting an effort close to Rogers, that the U’s ‘keeper had to parry due to the power behind it. A statement from The Hillians in response to the positive U’s start.

Now’s probably the time to talk about the conditions on this Sussex evening. It was foggy. Very foggy. Home goalkeeper Taylor Seymour was difficult to see at times in his gray kit foggy. The pitch was also showing signs of the rain, as was evident with 11 minutes on the clock.

A backpass made its way to Louis Rogers, who, as he looked to clear it, sliced it and the home attack raced onto it, and, as it looked like Hill might capitalise, the player in question slipped themself, and Rogers picked up the ball, delighted his error hadn’t led to a goal.

The game then descended into a bit of a ding dong battle, as the U’s were unable to settle into their rhythm, meaning more high balls over the top than we’ve become accustomed to from Agutters Hastings.

The closest the U’s came during this period was from a Dave Martin corner, which was half cleared, before Hasler released a header from twelve yards out, which Seymour acrobatically caught.

And, in stoppage time at the end of the first half, the U’s stubbornness finally paid off as they broke the deadlock, and did it in style. A pass found Martin on the left hand side, who bamboozled the defender with his footwork, before, off his left foot, firing a low effort off the far post from just outside the box. A half chance turned into a moment of brilliance by the former Millwall winger.

There was even time for another before the three blows of the whistle for half time. Hasler picking it up just outside the box on the left hand side, before cutting inside with a beautiful bit of skill and putting under the goalkeeper for two. A second goal for Hastings, and a second goal scored after the raising of the board.

HT : Burgess Hill 0-2 Hastings Utd

Hastings made their first change at half time, with Lanre Azeez coming on for Dave Martin. And, immediately, the Azeez effect was visible. The balls over the top were being chased with an extra yard of pace, and this was an integral part of the U’s getting on the front foot at the start of the half. Highlights include Ollie Black having a header cleared off the line, Hasler having a low effort blocked, and TC forcing a fine save by Seymour at his near post after he released a top corner bound rocket.

Soon after, Black would indeed get a rare goal to put a third on the board. A corner was flicked back into the danger zone by Craig Stone, and Black volleyed in at the near post for a deserved goal and a 3 goal margin with twenty minutes to go.

10 minutes later, as Hill presses, Tom Chalmers committed a foul just outside the box. Lewis Finney stepped up to the dead ball and hit an excellent free kick that left Rogers no chance. Cheers rang out about the More than Tyres Stadium as they saw their team get on the scoresheet.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Marcus Goldsmith was beaten one on one on the right hand side, and the resulting cross was met by the head of Max Miller, who converted with 5 minutes to go to set up a grand finale in the view of the floodlights.

Throughout the game the Hill fans and the Hastings fans were trading roles as the loudest on the night. The Hastings fans even kept their shirts off and their voices up with Hill banging on the Hastings door, and the body of noise after every clearance showed how much it meant. And, to follow on from Bob’s observation on Saturday, George was back and in full voice behind the goal tonight, and, as per usual, it was a sight to behold.

And, the best sight came at the final whistle, when players and fans celebrated surviving the late onslaught.

The U’s had done it.

FT : Burgess Hill 2-3 Hastings Utd

Burgess Hill : Seymour, Luther, Ward, Hamilton (Taylor 46′), Spinks, Ndozid, Miller, Kirkwood, Williams-Bowers (Uwezu 86′), Uchechi, Masikini (Finney 62′)

Unused subs : Harding, Tighe

Bookings : Kirkwood

Hastings Utd : Rogers, Black, Stone, Elphick, Goldsmith, Dixon, Adams, Hasler (Legg 73′), Martin (Azeez 46′), Chalmers, Pope (Pogue 65′)

Unused subs : Hull, Jenkins

Bookings : Pope, Pogue, Rogers

Attendance : 325

Next Fixture : Broadfields Utd (A), Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round, 3pm KO, 18/09/21

Ryan Segal