Hastings United had to settle for a point in their opening home game of the new season tonight (Monday).
The U’s were held to a 1-1 draw by Whitstable Town in Ryman Football League Division One South despite taking a second half lead through Frankie Sawyer at a breezy Pilot Field.
United manager Terry White made one enforced change from the side which won 2-0 at Walton Casuals on Saturday, with Dave Cook coming in for his league debut in place of the injured Ronnie Dolan.
The game got off to a lively start and Sam Adams called Whitstable goalkeeper Luke Watkins into action after just 22 seconds. The visitors then came close a couple of times as Nick Treadwell’s firm header from an Ian Pulman corner flashed just over and then John Mackenzie glanced a header against the post.
Still inside the first 10 minutes, United striker Ade Olorunda saw an instinctive effort blocked from Sam Cruttwell’s cross and then played in Sawyer, who fired wide of the near post.
Goalmouth action was somewhat less plentiful for the rest of the first half, although Pulman missed a great chance to give Whitstable the lead by heading over from just outside the six yard box and then had a long range effort saved by Pelling.
Cruttwell blazed over from a free kick awarded just outside the area when Sean Ray clearly felt he was hauled down inside the box, while in added time at the end of the half, Sawyer pulled his shot wide from an inviting position after Olorunda’s deflected effort fell kindly for him.
In the second half, Pelling fingertipped wide an angled shot by Aaron James and parried a Tom Loynes effort either side of Cruttwell getting back to deny Luke Girt as he bore down on goal following a long kick over the top.
Olorunda had a glorious opportunity to put United ahead just after the hour when he fired over with his left foot from six yards following an Adams cross. Sawyer’s first time effort was then blocked by the goalkeeper.
United did break through in the 73rd minute. Sawyer latched onto an Adams ball down the left and turned his man before rolling his finish across Watkins into the net.
Their joy was short-lived, however, as Whitstable levelled five minutes later. Loynes got on the end of a good ball inside Cruttwell and squared for Mackenzie to become the first player to score against United this season.
Sawyer’s angled left-foot shot following a good run from Adams was cleared off the line by Joe Kennett, while a piledriver of a free kick by Adams was parried by Watkins and Richard Rose couldn’t keep the rebound down.
Both teams have four points from their opening two matches following weekend wins, but United were certainly the more disappointed of the two at the final whistle.
United: Pelling, Rose, Cruttwell, T. Olorunda, Ray, King, Cook (Taylor 87), Adams, A. Olorunda (Temba 69), Sawyer, Johnson (Hassan 34). Subs not used: Bankole, Masters. Attendance: 445.