Point Gained in Battle of Hastings

Hastings United 1 Enfield Town 1

Report by Glyn Smith

The 50-or-so hardy Town supporters who made another long trip to the Sussex coast were rewarded with us gaining a valuable point in a highly entertaining game against a very good Hastings side.

With Jake Cass absent due to the hamstring strain he suffered on Saturday,  Adam Cunnington came into an otherwise unchanged starting eleven, who again lined up in a 5-3-2 formation. James Dayton took Cunnington’s place on the bench for a game that was rescheduled after being called off in January because of the big freeze.

In temperatures almost as cold as back then, Town started on the front foot and in the ninth minute a run into the box by Sam Youngs ended with a good save by Louis Rogers in the Hastings goal to prevent Marcus Wyllie scoring from 10 yards out.

 Eight minutes later and great work by the very impressive Johnville Renee saw his deep cross to the far post headed home by Cunnington (pictured) to put Town one up.

Renee continued to be an attacking threat for Town but Hastings responded to going behind with some impressive passing moves without really threatening an equalizer until the half hour mark. Town failed to fully clear their lines following a Hastings freekick and Ben Pope curled a shot from around 30 yards that was destined for the top corner until Nathan McDonald brilliantly dived full length to tip the ball away for a corner in what is probably the save of the season so far.

Four minutes later Town lifted some of the increasing pressure with a cross by Wyllie that saw Cunnington slide in and narrowly miss the target from 10 yards.

The equalizer that had been threatened came two minutes before halftime.

A slick free-flowing passing move from the hosts saw Smith slide the ball into the onion bag with great aplomb past an exposed McDonald.

H-T 1-1

Almost immediately from the restart Cunnington put Wyllie though on goal but his shot was saved well by Rogers at the expense of a corner. Gbode for Hastings responded with a low cross that was well held by McDonald.

A 56th minute cross by Mo Kamara saw Cunnington again thwarted at close range, but with Hastings gaining more of a foothold Andy Leese replaced Dequaine Wilson-Braithwaite with Andre Coker and changing to a 4-3-3 formation.

Coker made an almost immediate impact by putting Cunnington through on goal, but as with Wyllie’s earlier chance Rogers again saved the one on one. Hastings broke quickly from the resulting corner and James Richmond was booked for fouling the dangerous Smith.

With 20 minutes remaining Lewis Taaffe came on for Wyllie and his free kick shortly after saw Richmond’s header easily held by Rogers.

As the game became more stretched Chez Isaac replaced Kamara and with 10 minutes remaining another quick break by Hastings saw a low 30-yard drive held by McDonald. Isaac, though, was booked shortly afterwards for a foul on the edge of Town’s penalty area, but fortunately the freekick was curled over the bar.

As the game went into stoppage time another good low save by McDonald from a long shot, and subsequent block by Lewis Knight maintained the status quo.

In a final twist deep into stoppage time Hastings gained a throw in level with the edge of Town’s penalty area. They immediately made their final substitution by bringing on Ollie Black, and his long throw into the middle of the box was back headed over the bar and on to the roof of the net by a Hastings player.

Town – McDonald, Wilson-Braithwaite (Coker 59), Payne, Thomas, Knight, Richmond, Kamara (Isaac 77), Youngs, Cunnington, Wyllie (Taaffe 70), Renee. Unused substitutes Dayton, Della-Verde.