Hastings United will need a replay if they are to reach third round qualifying in the Emirates FA Cup.
The U’s drew 1-1 away to Herne Bay this afternoon (Saturday) and the teams will therefore do it all again at The Pilot Field on Tuesday night, kick-off 7.45pm.
United will be kicking themselves at failing to win the tie at the first opportunity, however, having led for more than an hour and played the final 65 minutes against 10 men.
Garry Wilson promoted Sam Cruttwell and Max Hollobone to the starting line-up for an all-Ryman Football League Division One South affair on a mainly sunny afternoon in north-east Kent.
United were the better side in the opening quarter, controlling the game with some good possession football. Billy Medlock failed to direct a header on target from a fine cross by Sam Cole before a lovely move involving Cruttwell, Medlock and Harris ended with Cole volleying Sam Crabb’s cross into the side-netting.
The visitors took a deserved lead in the 24th minute. Josh Pelling’s long kick made its way through to Cole in the inside left channel and the left-sided midfielder unleashed a terrific left-foot strike from just outside the box which flashed past home goalkeeper Jack Delo at his near post.
United’s position looked even stronger just a minute later when Herne Bay midfielder Sam Hasler was shown a straight red card after felling Medlock just inside the away half.
If the healthy contingent of away supporters were expecting a comfortable victory, though, they would’ve been disappointed because United seemed to stop playing and Herne Bay came into the match more and more as it went on.
There was little goalmouth action during the remainder of the first half, although Crabb made an important intervention to stop Steven Ita getting on the end of a good ball from Mark Lovell - one of four players booked before the break.
The ball spent far more time in United’s half than Herne Bay’s during the second period, and Lovell hit the angle of post and crossbar with a terrific header from Delo’s long free kick.
Medlock blasted a 30-yard free kick just over and Hollobone’s effort from outside the box was gathered by Delo at the second attempt in United’s only attempts of note during a well below par second half.
At the other end, Herne Bay substitute Elliot Cutts fired a low 25-yard shot just wide before forcing Pelling into his first noteworthy save of the match with an angled effort in the 78th minute.
Pelling then did well to claw out a dangerous cross-cum-shot by Danny Williams and with Sean Ray imperious in the heart of the away defence, it looked as if United might just hold on for an unconvincing victory.
But Herne Bay grabbed a fully merited equaliser in the 87th minute. Kane Phillip showed brilliant skill to turn his way between Ollie Rowe and Bright Temba before being brought down.
The referee initially awarded a free kick just outside the box, but then pointed to the penalty spot after consulting his linesman and Danny Walder rolled home the spot-kick.
It was the first goal United have conceded in five meetings with Herne Bay and the first they’ve let in during three FA Cup matches this term.
The replay means that United’s scheduled trip to East Grinstead Town in the league on Tuesday will be played at a later date.
United: Pelling, Crabb, Cruttwell (Hall 81), Rowe, Ray, Vickers (Temba 70), Adams, Hollobone, Medlock, Harris, Cole. Subs not used: Attwood, Richardson-Brown, Hanifan, Okoh, Rose. Attendance: 274.
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