Goalless draw frustrates Hastings United after late penalty is saved

Hastings United endured a frustrating afternoon in playing out a goalless draw away to Faversham Town.
Hastings United skipper Gary Elphick. Picture by Scott WhiteHastings United skipper Gary Elphick. Picture by Scott White
Hastings United skipper Gary Elphick. Picture by Scott White

A cool blustery day on an uneven pitch offered challenging conditions for both teams, chances were few and far between, yet both sides had a prime chance from the penalty spot repelled by alert goalkeeping.

United had the ideal opportunity to win the game after being awarded a penalty in the 95th minute, only for Ryan Worrall’s penalty to be pushed away.

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Saturday 26th September, the temperature has dropped as if we’ve skipped autumn and moved directly to winter. It’s dry but the gusts are strong enough to displace a ball placed for a goal kick. An ideal day for sailing or kite flying. United are wearing their third strip of all sky-blue and include Friday’s signing Knory Scott in the starting line-up. Faversham are turned out in stark white shirts, black shorts and socks.

The ‘Lilywhites’ kick off but for the opening ten minutes it is the ‘U’s on top, the wind behind their backs. Rolling the ball around at will and winning a throw-in down the left which is flung in by Ollie Black and headed over by Gary Elphick unchallenged. United’s possession continues another ten minutes, four corners are won in quick time but come to nothing.

There’s a delay after Craig Stone is caught by a stray elbow and this disrupts United’s rhythm. Whilst there is no discernible change in tactics, the home side are suddenly on the front foot, winning three consecutive free kicks. The third is played short down the left, a low cross is pulled back and Matt Bourne is clipped in the area. With no hesitation the referee awards a penalty and there are no complaints. United’s clean sheet record is under pressure, but we have faith in goalkeeper Louis Rogers, and he doesn’t disappoint, diving low to his right to save.

As we head to half-time the wind blows stronger suggesting playing into the wind second-half will be difficult. Faversham using their local knowledge perhaps.

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Worrall is proving to be United’s pivot, always available, keeping the play ticking over. And it is Worrall who manufactures a chance out of the nothing. Spotting the goalkeeper on walkabout he launches a shot from the halfway line. Luke Watkins does well to backtrack and stretch every sinew to tip the effort around the post. The final meaningful action of the half.

Half time: Faversham Town 0 – 0 Hastings United

United restart yet in contrast to the first half it is Faversham launching attacks in the early stages. A long throw is hacked clear amid shouts for handball, then a central free kick almost releases Harry Harding before he is crowded out. The home side are nothing if not direct.

Ten minutes into the second half and a cynical handball sees Abdul Lyoubi booked. Aaron Capon would have been away down the right. As if a switch has been pressed there is space in midfield for United to exploit and the home team bring all their all players behind the ball. Ben Pope has a shot blocked. Raheem Sterling-Parker shoots on the turn from the edge of the area, saved low down. A corner is won but headed away. Each time Faversham clear the ball, United regain possession and come straight back at them but without creating a clear-cut chance.

Then, with twenty minutes remaining, the ‘Lilywhites’ change tack again. Siege mentality is cast aside, and they are back on the offensive. A break down the right results in a dangerous low cross dissecting Rogers and his retreating defence, with no Faversham player able to get a touch in the six-yard box. The ball is retrieved, and the follow-up shot is deflected wide for a corner. From which the home side win a free kick, 25-yards out to the left of the area. United form a three-man wall which does its job, deflecting Harding’s shot for another corner.

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We enter five minutes of added time with both teams still admirably searching for a breakthrough. Craig Stone’s opportunistic header is saved, before Faversham break down the left and also have a shot saved.

The final act comes in the 95th minute. Stone punts a long ball into the danger area where Capon is floored by a centre-half’s clumsy challenge. The referee checks the location of the foul and points to the spot. Time is surely up. With Pope having been subbed, Worrall places the ball and is kept waiting. On Tuesday night the same player hammered his spot kick into the top corner. This time he places a shot low to the goalkeepers left, too close and pushed around the post. There are still seconds left for the corner to be struck then the final whistle blows and United must settle for a point on the road.

Full time: Faversham 0 – 0 Hastings United

Another clean sheet for Rogers and the back four together with long periods of possession, and another 90 minutes under the belts of the new players bedding in. Faversham played their part and whether or not it was by design, they cleverly mixed up their tactics. Definitely more to come from the ‘U’s as the squad returns to full strength, and they remain unbeaten after two league and two cup games.

Hastings United: Rogers, Black, Worrall, Elphick, Stone, Elliott, Pope (75’ Pogue), Chalmers (71’ Sterling-Parker), Cruttwell, Ward, Scott (56’ Capon) (Unused subs: Goldsmith, Adams)

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Faversham Town: Watkins, Jones, Lyoubi, Pont, Bourne, Denny, Okoh, Chambers (61’ McMorrow), Harding, Dos Santos (62’ Oluwasemo), Ogboe (62’ Ibe) (Unused subs: Speirs, Williams)

Attendance: 236

Next game: FA Cup 2nd round qualifying on Saturday 3rd October away to Ebbsfleet United. Kick-off is 3pmat Kuflink Stadium, Stonebridge Road, Northfleet, Kent DA11 9GN.

Ebbsfleet are a Step 2 side who play in the Vanarama National League South league, as such, unless there is an imminent change in the rules this game will be played behind closed doors.

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