Hastings lose out in see-saw contest

Frannie Collin scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season for Hastings United against Dorking Wanderers this afternoon. Picture courtesy Scott White
Frannie Collin scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season for Hastings United against Dorking Wanderers this afternoon. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United's footballers suffered their first home league defeat of the season this afternoon (Saturday).

United went down 4-2 against second-placed Dorking Wanderers in a see-saw, eventful and at times controversial Ryman Football League Division One South encounter.

Darren Hare's side fought back admirably from 2-0 down to draw level at 2-2 only to concede twice more thereafter as Dorking completed a league 'double' over United.

New boys Mitchell Dickenson and Callum Emptage went straight into the starting line-up as part of a new-look United back four, while defender Richard Davies and goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley returned after missing the previous weekend's game at Horsham through injury.

United were second best during the opening 40 minutes, though, and fell behind in only the sixth minute. Dorking forward Tom Tolfrey turned sharply away from Dickenson and his cross-shot went in off the boot of United defender Ollie Rowe at the far post.

On a bright but chilly afternoon at The Pilot Field, Dorking doubled their advantage in the 23rd minute. Guiseppe Sole sent a delightful free kick over the wall and into the corner of the net from just outside the D.

Dorking were playing some decent football and were good value for their lead before United got one back in the 42nd minute. Matt Bodkin's shot from a Harry Stannard pass was well blocked on the line by a Dorking defender, but Frannie Collin slotted home the follow-up.

That goal completely changed the game as United proceeded to dominate the remainder of the first half and first 30 minutes of the second period, playing some fine football of their own.

Collin had a great chance to equalise before the break only to be let down by an uncharacteristically poor touch and the same player drilled a 25-yard shot narrowly wide in the first two minutes after the turnaround.

Davies drove just over from 20 yards, Kiernan Hughes-Mason had a penalty appeal for handball turned down and Collin shot straight at goalkeeper Slavomir Huk from a Davies pass as United were knocking at the door.

The equaliser they'd been threatening arrived in the 70th minute. Hughes-Mason latched on to a brilliant long ball out of defence from Sam Cruttwell before playing a lovely one-two with Bodkin and being brought down in the box. Collin sent Huk the wrong way with the resulting penalty.

The momentum was now firmly with United and if either side was going to go on and win the game, it seemed like it had to be them.

Bodkin had a real chance to put United ahead a minute later, but pulled his shot wide with only Huk to beat and United were suddenly behind again in the 74th minute.

Dorking had the ball in the net, but the referee had already blown for a penalty after deeming a goalbound shot had struck a United arm. Tolfrey tucked away the resulting spot-kick, although United were furious the goal was allowed to stand because Pidgeley wasn't ready and the referee hadn't whistled for the kick to be taken.

Tolfrey came agonisingly close to another five minutes later only to see his close range effort while at full stretch come back off the crossbar.

Although Stannard shot just over from the edge of the box, United didn't really come close to an equaliser and Dorking scored an added time fourth goal. With United pushing bodies forward, James McShane controlled a great ball from Jake Beecroft before applying an emphatic finish.

United: Pidgeley, Davies, Emptage, Cruttwell, Dickenson (Thorbourne 75), Rowe, Bodkin, Johnson, Hughes-Mason (Harris 81), Collin, Stannard. Subs not used: Pritchard, Nicholls. Attendance: 330.

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

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