Hastings United and Whitehawk will have to do it all again on Tuesday evening after their FA Trophy encounter ended in a 2-2 draw.
Whitehawk took the lead through Connor Tighe’s deflected freekick with Jake Elliott replying for United on the stroke of half-time. Daniel Ajakaiye put United in front after his driving run caused havoc in the Whitehawk defence only for Kacper Lopata to equalise with a close-range header.
The match was preceded by an impeccable minute silence on Remembrance weekend.
Whitehawk kicked-off underneath the floodlights on a cold day, the earlier showers thankfully dispersed. United were into the game immediately. Lanre Azeez won a corner which hit Elliott and was saved on the line by James Broadbent. Minutes later Jack Dixon was fouled on the right edge of the area. With most anticipating a cross, the ball instead was played short to Ryan Worrall.
He struck a 20-yarder which hit the inside of the post with Dixon diverting the loose ball just wide. No-one looked sure how either effort had not resulted in a goal.
Fifteen minutes gone and, whilst United looked in control, both teams were playing good possession football. Whitehawk emphasised their threat when they broke down the right behind the United defence. Tighe’s cross was headed over from the penalty spot by the arriving Henry Muggeridge.
This chance roused United. In the space of few minutes Dixon’s shot was pushed around the post, Ajakaiye’s shot was blocked and Elliott headed over from a corner. In turn Whitehawk stirred and won a corner, half-cleared and crossed back in. Duane Ofori-Acheampong with a free header, eight yards out, tipped around the post by a flying Louis Rogers. An excellent save keeping the score at 0 - 0. The ensuing corner ricocheted off several bodies before being cleared off the line with Whitehawk players appealing for handball. Nothing given.
Half-an-hour in and the game was flowing end to end. It felt like a goal was coming from someone. United’s effort though was disallowed whilst Whitehawk’s counted. First, centre-half Lopata slipped and kicked fresh-air. Ben Pope slid in and beat Broadbent to the ball before hammering into the open goal. Chalked-off by the referee for a raised foot on the keeper. Only a few minutes later and Whitehawk took the lead. A freekick was awarded, central, some 25 yards out. Tighe struck it well but the ball deviated, a slight deflection off a head in the wall, wrong-footing Rogers and in.
United were not behind for long. A period of pressure started with Dixon firing a 25-yarder a whisker past the top corner before Ajakaiye broke at pace and saw his shot saved by the legs of Broadbent. Elliott then won a corner from which he headed in the equaliser at the far post.
Time for one more United chance. Ajakaiye released down the line again and the ball was worked to Craig Stone who hit a skimming shot from the edge of the area. A foot past the post with Broadbent scrambling.
Half-time: Hastings United 1 – 1 Whitehawk
Heavy rain and wind welcomed the teams back out for the second-half. It appeared United were pressing higher up the pitch, not permitting the Whitehawk defence time on the ball and regularly winning the ball back. This allowed Azeez to hit a shot hard and low which Broadbent did well to save for a corner. Dixon was then fouled in a similar position to Tighe’s goal, a tad further out perhaps but the resulting shot sailed over the bar.
The weather was not conducive for the game. Numerous passes skidded off the surface and out for a goal-kick or a throw-in. On the hour, United found a way through courtesy of Ajakaiye. Picking the ball up on halfway he powered his way through midfield and cleverly slipped the ball through to Pope. A one-on-one chance which Broadbent blocked, the ball fell to Dixon whose shot was cleared by a defender but straight back to Ajakaiye who made no mistake from 12 yards.
Whitehawk were down but not out. Tighe, found space to shoot from distance which Rogers saved down low for a corner. Whitehawk fashioned another shooting opportunity, this time Rogers tipped over the bar. The subsequent in swinging corner was headed in by Lopata from a few yards out to regain parity. Fifteen minutes to go and the game evenly poised.
Both teams pushed to find a winner, neither wanting a replay in an already congested fixture list. United had a series of long throw-ins into the area, all cleared. Pope shot narrowly over and then straight at Broadbent who spilled the ball but no-one was following in. With minutes remaining Whitehawk won a corner, cleared back to David Martin whose shot was touched over again by Rogers for what turned out to be the final action.
Full-time: Hastings United 2 – 2 Whitehawk
Man of the Match: Jake Elliott, scored a vital goal and made numerous forays down the right-wing. Defensively sound and an attacking menace. A great combination to have.
Hastings United: Rogers, Elphick (42’ Black), Stone, Elliott, Ajakaiye, Pope, Beale, Worrall (83’ Pool), Lovatt, Azeez (86’ Chalmers), Dixon (Unused subs: Hull, Rodari, Warren, Pogue)
Whitehawk: Broadbent, Emberson, Banya, Kissock, Lopata, Hamilton, Muggeridge, Ovenden, Ofori-Acheampong, Tighe (80’ Rodrigues), Martin (Unused subs: Walsh, Campbell, Rogers, Deda, Torres, Unwin)
Next games: Tuesday 12th away to Whitehawk in the FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round replay, kick-off 7:45pm. Saturday 16th at home to Phoenix Sports in the league, kick-off 3pm.