Hastings United’s footballers produced a poor performance to fall at the first hurdle in the FA Trophy.
The U’s were beaten 2-0 away to Cray Wanderers this afternoon (Sunday) after conceding twice in the closing quarter-of-an-hour of a forgettable preliminary round tie.
It was Dom Di Paola’s first defeat as United manager having won his opening two games. Di Paola made one change from the side which began last Tuesday night’s 3-1 win at East Grinstead Town, Tim Olorunda replacing Ronnie Dolan in midfield.
Cray - who are third-from-bottom of Ryman Football League Division One North - had a couple of good early chances against a United team lying 18th in the equivalent-standing Division One South.
A CJ Williams volley following Hussein Isa’s cross went straight at away goalkeeper Josh Pelling, who was tested again moments later after Olorunda unwittingly played in Shaun Welford.
Neither team created a great deal during the remainder of the first half and United, in fact, reached half time without mustering a single shot on or off target in their first competitive Sunday fixture for nearly four years.
Cray captain Michael Phillips - one of three former U’s players in the home ranks along with Ian Daly and Adrian Stone - had a volley blocked by Kevin Keehan and later headed wide from a corner by Isa, who forced Pelling into a splendid stop from a free kick.
Although Pelling denied Welford, Cray carried little threat during the first half-an-hour of the second half and United started to offer a bit more themselves at the home of Bromley FC.
Kenny Pogue’s first time volley finally forced a save out of home goalkeeper Nick Taylor and Ade Olorunda headed a Sam Adams corner over. After a couple of decent crosses from Taser Hassan weren’t capitalised on, a long range free kick by Adams was well tipped over.
Daly fired narrowly wide in a by now rare Cray opportunity and the same player opened the scoring in the 77th minute, making the most of the space afforded to him by firing home a left-foot shot.
United’s fate was sealed by a second Cray goal in added time, Welford converting a penalty he won himself. There was still time for Welford to have a great chance to make it 3-0, but his shot from an inviting position was well off target.
United: Pelling, Rose, Hand (Cruttwell), Keehan, Ray, Pullan, T. Olorunda (Dolan), Adams, A. Olorunda, Hassan, Pogue (Temba).