Hastings United’s footballers suffered their first home defeat of the season tonight (Tuesday).
The U’s were beaten 4-1 by new Ryman Football League Division One South leaders Folkestone Invicta after playing the entire second half with 10 men.
United were already 1-0 down when Sam Cole was shown a straight red card after the half time whistle had sounded. Zac Attwood scored a beauty to equalise, but unbeaten Folkestone won it with three goals in the closing quarter.
Although United midfielder Sam Adams saw a low 25-yard shot tipped around the post by Folkestone goalkeeper Tim Roberts in the first 15 seconds, Folkestone started the brighter of the two teams on a thankfully dry evening following the afternoon rain.
Josh Standford had a shot from outside the box well saved by United goalkeeper Josh Pelling low to his right before Folkestone took a 10th minute lead. Ian Draycott’s low ball from the left was turned home by Matt Newman from inside the six yard box.
United got into the game a bit more during the remainder of the first half, but Folkestone still held the upper hand and were certainly good value for their half time advantage.
A well-struck left-foot shot from Standford was beaten aside by Pelling at his near post and United’s goalkeeper later superbly tipped over a 25-yard attempt by Draycott. Moments before that, a decent effort from Standford curled just wide.
The in-form Cole thumped the ball into the Folkestone net just before the half-hour, albeit after the offside flag had already gone up, and the same player was sent-off for an ugly-looking lunge on Josh Vincent right on the half time whistle.
United brought on Tyrell Richardson-Brown for the second half and initially performed better with 10 men than they had with 11. Jack Harris saw a low angled drive fingertipped wide by Roberts having been played in by Attwood.
The same two players were central figures in United’s 56th minute leveller. Sam Crabb did well to deliver a cross from the right and Harris touched the ball down for Attwood to unleash a magnificent 20-yard volley which flashed past Roberts into the corner of the net.
Folkestone came agonisingly close to regaining the lead a couple of minutes later when Liam Friend headed against the crossbar and former United striker Carl Rook nodded wide in the same attack.
The visitors did hit the front in the 69th minute with a helping hand from United. Harvey Hanifan didn’t get enough on what looked like an attempted ball back to Pelling and Draycott lifted a neat finish over the goalkeeper.
Five minutes later it was 3-1. A terrific shot by substitute Ashley Miller from well outside the area struck the inside of the past and Ronnie Dolan, another former United player, couldn’t miss with the rebound.
United’s misery was made complete by a fourth Folkestone goal in the 83rd minute and again the hosts were the architects of their own downfall. Pelling uncharacteristically miskicked straight to Miller, who squared for Draycott to tap home.
Folkestone, who now boast 13 points from a possible 15, almost added a fifth approaching the 90-minute mark. A flowing move ended with a left wing cross being headed against the crossbar.
A minute’s silence was held prior to kick-off for the victims of the Shoreham air disaster at the weekend.
United: Pelling, Crabb, Hall (Wilson 87), Hanifan, Ray, Walder, Adams, Hollobone (Richardson-Brown HT), Attwood, Harris (Temba 79), Cole. Subs not used: Vickers, Cruttwell. Attendance: 421.
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