Monday, December 26, 2011
The high flying Rooks put United's recent revival into the starkest of contexts at the Pilot Field this afternoon, as an utterly dominant display saw Lewes claim the Boxing Day derby honours, while the U's sadly produced an all too traditional Bank Holiday performance and were lucky to only lose by a single goal.
Substitute striker Michael Malcolm headed the visitors' eighty-sixth minute winner to earn his side a well deserved three points, but the goal came shortly after United had begun to enjoy their first decent spell of the game, quickly curtailed by the seemingly harsh red card shown to Zac Attwood, who picked up his, and the contest's, second caution for catching Lewis Hamilton with a raised boot, even though his gaze was firmly directed on the flight of the ball at the time.
Attwood's earlier booking, for a poor challenge on Alex Stavrinou, could itself have been worthy of a sending off, but in a match in which that was the solitary bad foul, the second yellow card appeared a completely unnecessary sanction, and it also served to divert attention from an abject United effort, even more so when referee Matt Eva turned down stoppage time penalty appeals, when Lee Carey was bundled over in an aerial challenge with Max Hustwick, who would surely have been penalised if the incident had occurred anywhere else on the pitch.
By then, Malcolm had nodded home an Albert Jarrett cross from close range to finally give Lewes a lead that they might have claimed within the opening forty-five seconds, the mess that Josh Jirbandey made of another Jarrett cross matched only by Ian Draycott's dreadful finish from inside the six yard box that saw him miss the target by some distance.
The Rooks' did improve in front of goal thereafter though, with Matt Armstrong-Ford saving superby from Harry Harding's fifteen yard shot, the midfielder later heading against the post after a cross from the outstanding Christian Nanetti. The Italian born winger tormented both of United's full backs throughout the one-sided contest, and would have claimed an assist for the opening goal but for the offside flag that rightly denied Malcolm in the sixty-fifth minute.
Harding and Stavrinou both saw efforts safely gathered by Armstrong-Ford, whose confident personal display eventually spread to some of his outfield teammates, as the U's raised their game in the closing stages, winning their first corner, and even managing a couple of wayward attempts on goal from Davisson and Attwood, before the latter's dismissal left them chasing shadows again.
It was a day when too many players were as good as anonymous however, and United were ultimately punished for their apparent indifference by a Lewes side that were simply streets ahead in terms of ability, even if they did lack a cutting edge to their own play. Home supporters will justifiably be expecting better when East Thurrock call in for an early kick off on New Year's Eve.
|Hastings United||(0) 0||-||1 (0)||Lewes|
|Match facts||Efforts on target||Efforts off target||Free kicks conceded||Corners|
|Hastings United (4-3-3)||Lewes (4-5-1)|
|1 Matt Armstrong-Ford||1 Rikki Banks|
|2 Jack Dixon||2 Lewis Hamilton|
|3 Ross Sutton||3 Nic Ciardini|
|4 Lee Carey||4 Matt Somner|
|5 Scott Manning||5 Steve Robinson (c)|
|6 Josh Jirbandey (c)||6 Max Hustwick|
|7 Joe Barham||7 Alex Stavrinou|
|8 Jamie Crellin||8 Harry Harding|
|9 Billy Medlock||9 Ian Draycott|
|10 Zac Attwood||10 Albert Jarrett|
|11 Ben Davisson||11 Christian Nanetti|
|12 Matt Whitehead (for Barham 65)||12 Paul Booth (for Somner 73)|
|14 Kenny Pogue (for Medlock 73)||14 Malvin Kamara|
|15 Arron Hopkinson||15 Michael Malcolm (for Draycott 59)|
|16 Nick Gonsalves|
|17 Ryan Thomson|
Referee: Matt Eva (Tongham)
Assistants: Leigh Crowhurst (Uckfield) & Craig Cox (Partridge Green)