Hastings contest first goalless draw in three years

Hastings United goalkeeper Charlie Horlock kept a first clean sheet since the 1-0 win at home to Faversham Town on October 14. Picture courtesy Scott White
Hastings United goalkeeper Charlie Horlock kept a first clean sheet since the 1-0 win at home to Faversham Town on October 14. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United Football Club contested its first goalless draw for more than three years tonight (Tuesday).

Chris Agutter’s side had to settle for a point at home to Chipstead in Bostik League Division One South, the first no score draw the club’s had since the stalemate at Whyteleafe on October 25, 2014.

As the result would suggest, it certainly wasn’t a classic. The vast majority of the chances fell to Hastings, who will feel they ought to have won, but they couldn’t put any of them away as the in-form Calum Davies had a rare off-night in front of goal.

Hastings fielded the same starting line-up as in Saturday’s 2-1 win at home to VCD Athletic, which meant Jack Dixon had to make do with a place among the substitutes on his return from suspension. There was again no Sam Beale or Rhys Whyborne.

After a quiet opening quarter, Hastings gradually started to threaten. Davide Rodari miscued a left-foot shot at the end of a neat move down the left before Davies got goalside of the away defence from Dayshonne Golding’s hooked ball forward only to be let down by a heavy touch.

Hastings’ best chance of the first half came in the 33rd minute. Golding’s angled shot was parried by Chipstead goalkeeper Michael Sibley, Davies’s instinctive follow-up was blocked by the defender on the line and he then stabbed over as the ball came back to him.

Hastings certainly enjoyed the lion’s share of possession during the opening period and just before the break Rodari’s mishit shot after some great play by Ansu Janneh was blocked.

Having offered next to nothing going forward in the first half, Chipstead made a double substitution at half time and got on top during the third quarter of the contest, showing far more energy, purpose and attacking intent.

They were whiskers away from breaking the deadlock 80 seconds or so after the restart as Callum McClean’s terrific shot from outside the area struck the woodwork.

A decent strike by Rodari from around 30 yards was parried by Sibley, who also saved the follow-up from Davies. Minutes later Rodari had a shot blocked after a good run and pass by Janneh.

Hastings seemed the more likely winners during the final quarter and they had a glorious chance to hit the front after 70 minutes. Sam Adams won possession and played a lovely pass to put Davies through on goal, but the forward poked wide with only Sibley to beat.

Hastings goalkeeper Charlie Horlock made his only real save of the night from Leon Lalor-Dell’s angled drive five minutes later.

With the draw looking increasingly likely, Hastings had another decent opening in the 84th minute. Davies got on the end of a good ball forward from Sam Cruttwell and got goalside of the defender, but his half-hit attempted poke past Sibley was comfortably saved.

Although a frustrating night for Hastings on the whole, they did at least keep a first clean sheet since mid-October and extended their unbeaten run to six league matches (seven in all competitions) in front of their lowest crowd for a home league fixture this season.

Hastings remain 14th in the table having already completed 20 league matches and 25 in all competitions. They are at home again on Saturday, against Guernsey, in a 1pm kick-off.

Hastings: Horlock, Pritchard, Cruttwell, Lovatt, Rowe, Climpson, Rodari (Pogue 78), Adams, Davies, Janneh (Dixon 68), Golding (Taggart 52). Subs not used: Black, Sotoyinbo. Attendance: 239.