Hastings so close to FA Cup upset

Steve Watt put Hastings United ahead against Margate. Picture courtesy Scott White
Steve Watt put Hastings United ahead against Margate. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United's footballers came agonisingly close to pulling off a magnificent FA Cup upset tonight (Tuesday).

The U's drew 2-2 in their third round qualifying tie away to Margate having led 2-0 heading into the final 15 minutes of normal time.

A replay will take place on a date to be announced, with the winners away to Harrow Borough in fourth round qualifying on Saturday October 15.

National League South club Margate plays its football two levels higher than Ryman League Division One South team United, but the visitors led for nearly 80 minutes at a windswept Hartsdown Park.

The tie went ahead at the second time of asking following Saturday's postponement and United made a super start, taking a seventh minute lead through Steve Watt's header from a corner.

United preserved that advantage for the remainder of an entertaining half even though Margate won several free kicks in dangerous areas, Elliott Buchanan firing one of them onto the top of the net.

Sam Cruttwell's corner produced the second Hastings goal. Picture courtesy Scott White

Sam Cruttwell's corner produced the second Hastings goal. Picture courtesy Scott White

The U's went two-up in the 55th minute when a corner by Sam Cruttwell - who was on holiday when the game was supposed to have been played at the weekend - was punched into his own net by Margate goalkeeper Lewis Ward.

Margate pulled one back in the 77th minute when Matt Johnson picked out the far corner of the net with a curling effort from 25 yards.

It was backs-to-the-wall stuff for United thereafter as they fought desperate to hang on to their lead, but it wasn't to be as Manny Parry tucked home a cross from eight yards to make it 2-2.

Margate had a great chance to have won it thereafter, but Chris Sessengnon shot inches wide of the far post, meaning the teams will have to do it all again at The Pilot Field.

United: Pidgeley; Davies, Watt (Climpson), Rowe, Butler; Stannard, Cruttwell, Johnson, Bodkin; Collin, Akrofi (Harris).

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

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