Saturday, October 8, 2011
Two goals in two second half minutes sent United tumbling to a not unexpected defeat against high flying Hendon at the Pilot Field this afternoon, but once again, the main focus of attention fell upon the shot shy hosts' attacking endeavours, which failed to muster a single attempt on target throughout a contest that became increasingly one-sided the longer it wore on.
To be fair to the U's though, there were clear signs of improvement during a surprisingly open first half, when some perfectly decent approach play was only let down by the lack of any discernible end product. As the Hendon pressure built after the interval however, the home side looked hugely less assured, and the final outcome seemed sadly inevitable as a consequence.
Reacting to Tuesday's defeat at Billericay, boss Jason Hopkinson dropped skipper Sean Ray to the bench, partnering Scott Manning with the ever impressive Josh Jirbandey at the heart of United's defence. And the sudden, if not shocking, departure of Rhys Whyborne led to another recall for Fred Foreman, as part of a fluid, more attack-minded formation, which also saw Ross Sutton and Lee Carey encouraged to push forward down the flanks.
For the best part of half an hour, the tactics appeared to be working nicely, with United giving as good as they were getting, keeping things tight at the back, and looking menacing when going forward, at least to a point. Recent signing Ryan Thomson slotted seamlessly into central midfield, where Jamie Crellin continues to exert a calming influence, even if he is racking up a slightly worrying yellow card count, but Kenny Pogue once again found things tough up front, despite enjoying more support than has previously been the case this season.
United threatened to undo their good early work by reverting to their former lacklustre selves in the closing stages of the first half though, with Greg Ngoyi spurning two excellent chances, including one effort fired against the post when clean through in the area. Carl McCluskey might have won a penalty when he appeared to be clipped in rounding Lloyd Anderson, but he stayed on his feet and lost possession, proving that honesty is perhaps not always the best policy.
Ngoyi was then a shade unfortunate not to earn his side a spot kick, referee Harry Lennard awarding only a free kick for a foul by Jirbandey that probably occurred a foot inside the box. Jamie Busby's subsequent effort was safely gathered by Anderson.
As the interval loomed large, Elliott Charles had a close range effort ruled out by an offside flag, but United failed to profit from that moment of good fortune in the second period, and Anderson's poor clearance presented McCluskey with a great chance to score, only for Jirbandey to get back and cover the midfielder's tame shot.
Greens' keeper Sean Thomas, once briefly a United player, could scarcely have enjoyed a quieter afternoon on his latest return to the Pilot Field, but he did show due respect to Jirbandey's long range shot and to Thomson's twenty yarder, but needn't really have gotten his kit dirty, as both efforts were off target, albeit narrowly.
The game ultimately disappeared from United's grasp in the seventy-fourth minute, moments after Anderson had denied Ngoyi with a decent save at his near post. From the resulting corner, Busby picked out the unchallenged run of defender Michael Peacock, who thumped a header into the corner to give Hendon the lead.
Two minutes later, James Parker's cross was controlled on the chest by the lively Charles, whose next touch was an unstoppable volley that flew high to Anderson's left and nestled in the roof of the net. The game was effectively over.
The deposed Ray was introduced as a late attacking throw of the dice, with Finnish born midfielder Jarkko Antonen handed his debut on the right, but Carey and Foreman could only add to United's meagre tally of attempts off target as the clock ran down, and the majority of those that had gathered in a much improved attendance of 319 departed in typically sombre mood.
Successive defeats to two of the current top three have left United one place outside the bottom four once again, and they face another long trip to another unhappy hunting ground, Wealdstone at Grosvenor Vale, next weekend, before embarking on a trio of cup fixtures, including a first ever visit to Bedfont Town in the FA Trophy.
|Hastings United||(0) 0||-||2 (0)||Hendon|
|Match facts||Efforts on target||Efforts off target||Free kicks conceded||Corners|
|Hastings United (4-5-1)||Hendon (4-4-2)|
|1 Lloyd Anderson||1 Sean Thomas|
|2 Jack Dixon||2 James Parker|
|3 Dan Bolwell||3 Scott Cousins (c)|
|4 Jamie Crellin||4 Michael Peacock|
|5 Scott Manning||5 James Archer|
|6 Josh Jirbandey (c)||6 Casey Maclaren|
|7 Lee Carey||7 Jamie Busby|
|8 Ryan Thomson||8 Carl McCluskey|
|9 Kenny Pogue||9 Greg Ngoyi|
|10 Fred Foreman||10 Kevin Maclaren|
|11 Ross Sutton||11 Elliott Charles|
|12 Sean Ray (for Pogue 81)||12 Dave Diedhiou (for Busby 84)|
|14 Lee Paine||13 Dewayne Clarke (for C Maclaren 81)|
|15 George Jones||14 Craig Carby|
|16 Jarkko Antonen (for Crellin 81)||15 Belal Aite-Ouakrim (for Ngoyi 81)|
|17 Ben Billings (for Sutton 63)||17 Bradley Fraser|
Referee: Harry Lennard (Peacehaven)
Assistants: Leigh Crowhurst (Uckfield) & Mark Parsons (Lindfield)