Black and Elphick are Hastings United's unlikely FA Cup goal heroes
The FA Cup gave Hastings United fans an emotional rollercoaster as the Us got over the line away to Broadfields Utd.
A second in two games for our newest goal machine, Ollie Black, and a Gary Elphick double were enough to send the Us through on a sweltering Surrey afternoon. It puts Chris Agutter's men through to the third qualifying round, in which they'll travel to Poole Town or Chippenham.
The Us got the game under way, courtesy of Lanre Azeez, wearing number 15 due to the return to the squad of Lloyd Dawes. Hastings immediately won a free kick just inside the Broadfields half. Dixon lofted in the free kick, and it was flicked back by Elphick, before a wonderful manoeuvre by Black meant he was able to get an effort away, which found the bottom corner and sent the Us fans behind the goal into raptures.
Just a few minutes later they came agonisingly close to a second – and showed their teeth in regards to their back to front play. An expert sliding challenge by Elphick won the ball back deep in the Us territory, and after a counter attack was half snuffed out, Black stepped up to release one of his monster throws, which was half punched by the goalkeeper, and met by Sam Hasler, who drilled off of the far post and out. The chance to be two up after ten denied by a matter of inches.
And they were made to pay a few minutes afterwards. The hosts knocked the ball around and released a through ball that caught the Us backline flat footed, and Rico Clarke-Rowe calmly finished into the far corner to equalise and leave Hastings to ask questions of how they were allowed to create and finish an opportunity like that.
Whilst the Us were the better team for the time after the equaliser, Broadfields showed a renewed sense of self belief, with loose balls and second balls ending up with the hosts more often than not. The Us continued to pose a clear and present danger when in the final third, with Hasler having a deflected free kick saved by the Broadfields stopper Lincoln. Dave Martin was also his usual tenacious self, linking well with Azeez on the opposite flank, whose cross was intercepted with Ben Pope lurking in the six-yard box.
And, with ten minutes until half time, the Us were made to rue their missed chances. A foul by Craig Stone (which saw him booked) just outside the box halted the Broadfields attack, but Rhys Ellis stepped up to bend the free kick into the top corner, leaving Louis Rogers no chance and the visitors in a state of shock as Ellis reeled away in delight. The hosts were leading the tie for the first time.
Before the interval the Us had two more chances, both courtesy of Pope. The first was more of a half chance in all honesty, as a bouncing through ball was hit on the half volley from distance and an unfriendly angle, and ended up in the barrier between the goal and the fans. In stoppage time Pope took over free kick duties and his effort was well hit, but rattled the pole holding up the net, as opposed to the net itself.
HT : Broadfields Utd 2-1 Hastings Utd
The Us started with a much higher line than 45 minutes prior, trying to ramp up the pressure on the hosts early on in the half. This meant that Broadfields were able to play long balls for their wingers to chase, but fortunately the U’s defensive coverage was good enough that, when they succeeded, they were just as quickly defended.
However, at the other end, things just weren’t clicking as we’ve seen them do so many times. Hasler's trademark through balls were being read and intercepted every time, the touches were that inch too far ahead and were being intercepted and Broadfields were generally playing better football and looking more dangerous. It started to feel like it just wasn’t going to be the Us' day, particularly when substitute Dawes headed over from close range. They were huffing and puffing as Broadfields sat back to try and complete the cupset.
But, where there’s a Pogue, there’s a way. King Kenny was brought on for Marcus Goldsmith to bolster the numbers in the box, ahead of the influx of balls we knew we were going to see in the final few minutes. He was brought on just before a Black throw, and immediately made a nuisance of himself, which meant Elphick was able to get his experienced head to the ball, which connected perfectly and went in. Level. Celebrations from the supporters (who were, as usual, unreal), but the ball was raced back to the centre spot, as the Us wanted to avoid a Tuesday FA Cup night under the lights at the TGS Pilot Field in their already hectic schedule.
And then, it came. A Martin corner, a slight scramble, the roof of net bulges. As Hastings celebrated, there was mass confusion, as the linesman’s flag being raised had coincided with a Broadfields player hitting the deck. However, the linesman was flagging to confirm the ball had crossed the line, and not for an infringement. Elphick and his beautiful bonce had done it.
It had been one heck of a tie. And the Us were the victors.
FT : Broadfields Utd 2-3 Hastings Utd
Hastings Utd : Rogers, Black, Elphick, Stone, Goldsmith (Pogue 84′), Dixon ©, Chalmers, Hasler, Martin, Azeez (Dawes 65′), Pope
Unused subs : Simmons, Legg, Adams, Bates
Next Fixture : AFC Dunstable (H), Buildbase FA Trophy, 3pm KO, 25/9/2021