FA Cup progress: Dixon inspires Hastings United to win at Beckenham

Jack Dixon was United's star man at Beckenham / Picture: Scott WhiteJack Dixon was United's star man at Beckenham / Picture: Scott White
Jack Dixon was United's star man at Beckenham / Picture: Scott White
A midfield masterclass from Jack Dixon inspired Hastings United to a 3-0 win against a competitive Beckenham Town.

After an even-stevens opening, Sam Hasler’s ferocious shot midway through the first-half put the game firmly in United’s control, a position they never looked like relinquishing. Tom Chalmers’ header doubled the lead early in the second-half before Freddie Legg ran fifty yards with the ball and thumped home a third to complete the scoring against the step-five hosts.

How it unfolded

United put two feet on the road to Wembley on Saturday, with a 3pm kick-off at Eden Park Avenue, the home of Beckenham Town. The day is warm with heavy clouds, the rain has abated, and the playing surface looks exemplary. United are wearing their away colours of sky-blue shirts and socks with white shorts. The Becks are head to toe in red.

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The home team kick-off and it’s a fairly subdued opening few minutes while both teams feel each other out. The Becks Tom O’Connor has the first shot of the game, struck well from 30 yards, and watched over the bar by Louis Rogers. They are a neat side who like to keep the ball on the floor. Which suits United too. Sam Adams and Marcus Goldsmith create the ‘U’s first opportunity, a one-two down the right is laid off to Hasler who shoots over.

The deadlock is broken just after the midway point of an even first-half, with neither goalkeeper having been worked to this point. Dixon and Hasler work together in midfield and feed the ball back to Craig Stone who aims long for Ben Pope. As ever United’s centre-forward is up against two centre-halves, but this is where Pope thrives, he wins the ball for Adams to spread the play wide for Dave Martin. His first-time cross is only half-cleared to Hasler who thrashes home left-footed into the roof of the net from eight yards. Absolutely no stopping that!

Minutes later and Beckenham have their best chance of the game. Chalmers has an unfortunate slip in midfield and the Becks look to take advantage. Tunde Aderonmu finds himself one-on-one with Rogers in the United area, the centre-forward is favourite to score except Rogers has other ideas and produces a tremendous one-handed stop to preserve the lead.

At this point Dixon comes to the fore. He wins a tackle in midfield and frees Martin down the left, his early cross is cleared but recycled by Stone to find Martin again. This time his cross is pulled back to Hasler who shoots over from the edge of the area. United press again through Dixon and Chalmers who free Hasler to set up Adams to shoot. A brilliant move worthy of a goal except for a last-ditch block by an outstretched leg.

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Martin is causing the full-back all sorts of trouble and it doesn’t matter whether he tries to stay tight or drop-off because United’s new signing just has the knack of finding his own space. Dixon, Stone and Gary Elphick are on Martin’s wavelength, repeatedly setting the wide-man off and running. In the final minute of an entertaining half, Pope fires over after a thrilling one-touch passing move takes United from one end of the pitch to the other.

Half-time: Beckenham Town 0 – 1 Hastings United

United restart with no changes in personnel and keep the ball for the opening minutes. Dixon then hits the pass of the game, 40 yards right to left into the path of Martin who doesn’t need to break stride in crossing for Pope who fails by a whisker to get a touch. Indeed it misses everyone. For the home side it’s a short-lived reprieve. The Us make sharp triangles with first-time passes which ends with two Pope shots being blocked, the second for a corner. The cross is deep and Stone chips a delightful ball back toward the penalty spot where Chalmers jumps highest and heads clinically into the bottom corner. The goalkeeper considered diving, but the ball was nestling in the net before he could move. The lead is doubled.

Minutes later it’s almost three. Stone frees Goldsmith down the right who pulls the ball back for Hasler, onto Martin, first-time cross and Pope side-foots against the goalkeeper’s legs from six yards. Nothing wrong with the first-half performance but this has been a storming start to the second-half from United. Not least because the home team continue to battle hard and keep pushing forward, O’Connor is the pick of their bunch, but United’s back-four is rock-solid today.

Beckenham’s chances of getting anything out of the game suffer a self-inflicted blow at the mid-point of the second-half. Dixon is penalised for a foul on Damo Ramsamy in midfield, nothing wrong with the decision, except with both players on the ground Ramsamy has a rush of blood and lashes out with a boot that catches Dixon on the head. The referee is three yards away and completes the home side's ensemble with a flashing red card. United will play the final twenty minutes against ten men.

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With fifteen minutes remaining Pope goes close again. Hasler’s pass inside the full-back frees Martin, and you guessed it, a first-time cross to Pope who takes a touch but fires over. Nine times out of ten the net bulges!

Hasler, who has grown into this game, tries a cheeky long-range shot which has the goalkeeper desperately back-tracking, and he wouldn’t have got there, but the ball drops the wrong side of the bar. United though will not be denied a third. Ollie Black breaks up an attack and gives Legg the ball midway in the United half. Legg powers forward through the midfield, the defence backs off, so he keeps going and shoots from 25-yards. Perhaps it surprises the goalkeeper, maybe it took a slight deflection, either way he’s wrong-footed and this time the net does bulge. Job done for the ‘U’s and the next round beckons.

Full-time: Beckenham Town 0 – 3 Hastings United

Man of the match: Jack Dixon. An excellent passing display, he disrupted the opposition’s play and dictated the pace and flow of the game. At his best. A mention in dispatches for Chalmers who ran Dixon close for MotM.

Hastings United: Rogers, Black, Elphick, Stone, Chalmers, Dixon (72’ Greig), Pope, Adams [c], Hasler, Goldsmith (62’ Scott), Martin (82’ Legg)

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Beckenham Town: Blue, Valler (71’ Hanifan), Johnson, Doci (61’ Ramsamy), Carter, Henry, Pink (61’ Humphries), Waldron, Aderonmu, O’Connor, Townsend

United goals: 24’ Hasler, 52’ Chalmers, 88’ Legg

by Bob Quinn

Twitter: @BobJQuinn