Hastings United Football Club’s interest in this season’s knockout competitions was ended by Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23 development squad tonight (Tuesday).
Bostik League South East Division team Hastings conceded three times in the closing quarter to lose 4-0 at home to Albion’s youngsters in round three of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup.
Hastings performed reasonably well for the most part and had their fair share of possession, but Brighton’s superior quality in the final third and extra staying power proved decisive.
See also: * Hastings United stay second despite defeat to Haywards Heath Town
* 10-man Hastings United beaten at home by East Grinstead Town
* 10-man Hastings United beaten by Whyteleafe
The home side started encouragingly and was unlucky not to take a ninth minute lead. Antonio Walker’s shot at the far post from Sam Beale’s ball across goal was just about kept out by Brighton goalkeeper Hugo Keto, and follow-up efforts from Sam Adams, Daniel Ajakaiye and Beale just wouldn’t go in.
Hastings fell behind in the 25th minute while they were temporarily down to 10 men as Beale received treatment off the pitch for an injury which forced him off.
A Peter Guargis corner from Brighton’s right was headed goalwards by Josh Kerr from just inside the area and Dan Cashman hooked the ball home on the volley from four yards.
Later in the first half, Hastings goalkeeper Charlie Horlock saved a Guargis shot which bounced and spun awkwardly in front of him. Horlock then made a splendid tip over from the same player following a delightful one-two between Teo Jarvis and Cashman.
Haydon Roberts turned the ball goalwards from the resulting corner only for Horlock to again make the save, while at the other end, Jack Dixon’s 30-yard strike was awkwardly saved by Keto, the ball only just rolling wide of the post.
After Hastings midfielder Adam Lovatt went off injured at half time, Brighton began the second period on the front foot. Cashman struck the post after Horlock parried a shot from distance and moments later Ryan Longman’s angled drive was well saved by Horlock at his near post.
Hastings then enjoyed a decent spell of possession, but lacked the required quality with the final ball or pass to fashion a genuine scoring opportunity.
Brighton doubled their advantage in the 70th minute. Jarvis played a nice ball through to Stefan Ljubicic, who timed his run well to stay onside before slotting past Horlock.
After Youssouf Bamba blazed over Brighton’s crossbar, the visitors went three-up in the 75th minute. Joe Tomlinson was released into space on the away right and squared the ball across the area for Ljubicic to roll into the net.
Brighton added a fourth goal - and the best of the lot - in the 90th minute. Billy Collins played a great ball out to Longman on the left and he cut inside before unleashing a superb 20-yard strike into the far corner of the net.
Hastings: Horlock; Howlett-Mundle, Climpson, Cruttwell; Adams, Lovatt (Ibrahim HT), Dixon, Walker (Ogboe 69), Beale (Mensah 28); Ajakaiye, Bamba. Subs not used: Fielding, Williams. Attendance: 323.