Hastings looked as if they’d lost when Hythe took a 2-1 lead in added time, but hit straight back to rescue a dramatic 2-2 draw through George Taggart’s first senior goal for the club.
The result extended Hastings’ unbeaten run to eight Bostik Football League Division One South matches, although they dropped a place to 14th in a closely-bunched middle part of the table.
Hastings manager Chris Agutter made two changes to his starting line-up from the previous weekend’s 3-1 win at home to Guernsey.
Tom Climpson returned in the centre of defence, with Sam Cruttwell moving into midfield, and Kenny Pogue was promoted to the starting XI against his former club. There was no Adam Lovatt or Davide Rodari in the matchday squad.
There was a lot of effort, but no real end product from either side during quite a cagey opening to the match on a cold afternoon at Reachfields.
Hastings opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. Ansu Janneh leaped above everyone to score with a flying header into the bottom corner from Dayshonne Golding’s beautifully delivered free kick from the left.
The visitors switched off, however, and Hythe levelled immediately after the kick-off, Jerson Dos Santos finding the net from close range.
The game opened up during the remainder of the first half, albeit without much in the way of chances for either side. That said, Hastings forward Calum Davies was denied by Hythe goalkeeper Will Godman from a one-on-one situation.
Hastings came under siege for the first 10 minutes of the second period and goalkeeper Charlie Horlock tipped one effort over the top.
The away side gradually settled, and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and the attacking during the rest of the contest, although Hythe carried a real threat on the counter.
There was a moment of controversy when Horlock came haring out of his goal and took out a Hythe player just outside the box, sparking a melee between the two sets of players. Hastings were relieved when their goalkeeper was shown only a yellow card.
Horlock later denied Hythe substitute Sid Sollis in a one-on-one situation before Hythe grabbed what they thought was the winner. Horlock saved the initial effort to his right, but former Hastings player Dave Cook rifled home from around the penalty spot.
Hastings refused to accept defeat, though, and won a corner seconds after the kick-off, for which Horlock came forward.
The corner itself was cleared, but only as far as Sam Adams, who found Taggart and he shimmied past a couple of opponents on the left before drilling a tremendous shot through a crowd of players into the bottom corner, sparking jubilant celebrations among the Hastings players and management.
Ollie Rowe was superb in the Hastings defence and Horlock had a fine game in goal, while Cruttwell and Adams were very influential in midfield.
Hastings: Horlock, Pritchard, Beale, Cruttwell, Rowe, Climpson, Golding, Adams, Davies, Janneh, Pogue (Taggart 80). Subs not used: Vickers, Black, Sotoyinbo, Rodrigues-Barbosa. Attendance: 233.