Both sides could have scored in the opening two minutes with the visitors thwarted by Louis Rogers while United suffered at the hands of the crossbar. The first-half remained goalless despite both sides creating openings before an enterprising start to the second-half saw the ‘U’s break the deadlock on 56 minutes, Kenny Pogue sweeping home a corner at the far post. Just three minutes later Chichester almost equalised through Callum Overton when his shot struck the post. With 20 minutes remaining it was left to Tom Chalmers to give United breathing space when he latched onto Ollie Black’s long throw and headed in United’s second goal to settle the game.
Tuesday 30th November, the day before Christmas songs begin playing on the radio. There is thick cloud and sporadic showers swirling in the breeze but compared to the last few games it’s a balmy 11 degrees. The ‘U’s return to their home strip of claret shirts with white shorts, and socks. Chichester meanwhile wear yellow shirts and socks with black shorts. For United there’s a place in the starting line up for Lloyd Dawes who is thankfully returning from injury, and also a home debut for Andrew Sesay.
The stadium announcer’s choice of music is to blast out ‘Two Tribes’ in preparation for the teams entering the field and a fresh shower rolls in as the players exit the tunnel. If the intention is to instil a sense of battle it certainly does the trick. Chichester take the kick-off and within 30 seconds have made their way into the United area, the angle is tight and Rogers is able to save the shot at his near post. At the other end Dawes wriggles his way out of a tight spot to win a corner, which Finn O’Mara wins in the air but his header thumps against the bar. A crackling start to the game in which both sides could have scored.
Tom Chalmers, who continues to fill in at right back, has a wonderful knack of drifting past players and does so again down the wing. He cuts inside into the area, the defender is behind him and Chalmers is floored by the challenge. The penalty shout is waved away by the referee who instead gives a goal kick.
A minute later Chalmers is involved in some excellent interplay in midfield, he slides a pass into the area for Pogue to chase. With a defender on his heels and a goalkeeper steaming toward him, Pogue manages to stretch and get a toe-poke on the ball which goes the wrong side of the post.
Craig Stone then launches a long ball wide to Dawes who runs at the defence and pulls the ball back into the area. The pass finds a player in yellow rather than one in a claret shirt, but the good news is, there has been more incision in this opening 15 minutes than United created in 90 minutes last Saturday.
Chalmers continues to torment the opponents, he dances past two, a third and then delivers a dangerous low cross into the six-yard area where Sesay can’t quite make contact and the ball is cleared.
A lot has already happened, and the game is only 20 minutes old. Chichester then benefit from the referee pulling the game back for their freekick on halfway having initially played advantage. While United regroup a quick freekick is launched over the top into the path of Ethan Prichard who is through on goal only for Rogers to come flying out to meet the attacker and make a vital block.
As the half progresses Sam Hasler shoots wide for United before Pogue also heads wide from a corner. While the ‘U’s have created numerous openings they are yet to truly test the Chichester goalkeeper. The remainder of the half also goes a tad scrappy with United on top but each throw-in, freekick, corner or passing move is repelled or the ball will not drop to a United player or someone is offside. Dawes has the final effort of the half when he intercepts a pass on halfway and attempts an audacious long-range lob over the goalkeeper, but the ball beats the bar as well.
Half-time: Hastings United 0 – 0 Chichester City
The teams re-enter the field together and the ‘U’s restart the game. Sesay is immediately involved with a run and cross down the left and Pogue’s backheel is blocked, the ball is played back to Sesay and another cross is cleared. Back come United again through Sesay who this time lays the ball back to Hasler to cross, met by the head of Jack Dixon which hits the woodwork. On the other side of the pitch Chalmers sets off on another jinking run to give Pogue the chance to cross which is a fraction too high for Sesay. An opening five minutes which has been all United.
The pressure continues on the visitors. Another Pogue cross is punched clear, Hasler’s follow-up cross is also cleared before Chalmers wins another corner from which the pressure finally tells. Hasler’s corner is across the six-yard area, there’s no real height but it goes all the way to Pogue at the far post and he gleefully sweeps home. United rewarded for an excellent start to the second-half and they score the first goal for the first time in the last five league games.
A lead which is almost immediately wiped out. A slide-rule pass frees Overton who hits a low shot wide of Rogers which bounces against the bottom of the post and the ball travels across the face of goal before being cleared. A huge let-off and relief all round. The precariousness of a one-nil lead is clear for all to see.
After this whirlwind start there’s a lull. Chichester have not wilted and United look to be taking a breather, steeling themselves for another onslaught perhaps? Indeed, so it proves. The ‘U’s win a throw midway in the visitors half on the left. Ollie Black territory and his long throw into the area pays off via the head of Chalmers who doubles United’s lead.
United continue to create chances in the final quarter of the game. Knory Scott shoots wide of the far post after being set up by Sesay before Pogue tries to place a shot into the bottom corner and the goalkeeper saves comfortably. Sesay, who has had a seriously impressive home debut, then departs to a loud round of applause for his efforts.
There’s still time for Pogue to have another header saved before Sam Adams heads wide and this concludes the chances. The points are safe and it’s a first clean-sheet in the league since the 3 – 0 win at Hythe back in October, albeit by the width of the goalpost.
Full-time: Hastings United 2 – 0 Chichester City
Man of the match: Tom Chalmers. Created a number of opportunities with his dazzling runs and finished his excellent performance off with another goal, his fourth of the season. A mention in dispatches for Andrew Sesay who demonstrated his speed and skills, especially in the second-half, and must have run Chalmers close for the award.
Hastings United: Rogers, Black, Worrall, O’Mara, Stone, Chalmers, Dawes (Scott 62’), Dixon, Hasler (Adams 71’), Pogue, Sesay (Martin 81’)
Chichester City: Magee, Davidson, Hutchings, Horncastle, Mendoza, Pashley, Prichard, Dunn, Overton, Rowlatt, Madhani (Dellaud 77’)
United goals: Pogue (56’), Chalmers (71’)