Hastings United pulled off a remarkable turnaround to win an incredible match at home to Horsham today (Saturday).
United scored four times during a crazy last half-hour to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 victory in an FA Trophy first round qualifying tie containing one red card for the U’s and two for Horsham.
For the opening hour, though, United looked a shadow of the side that had won six and drawn one of its previous seven games as Horsham, who sit 16 places below them in the Ryman Football League Division One table, held a deserved lead.
The visitors took less than two minutes to open their account. Byron Napper released Gabriel Odunaike down the right with a good ball inside the full-back and the latter’s low cross was perfect for ex-United striker Jamie Cade to apply a simple finish.
Billy Dunn hit United’s post with a delightful free kick and Cade put the rebound over from close range. United broke down the other end and Jono Richardson forced a good save out of Horsham goalkeeper Michael Hunter at his near post.
Sam Adams then saw a free kick well saved by Hunter, who made a point blank block from Tim Olorunda’s follow-up. United stopper Josh Pelling kept out a Cade shot low to his left and an Adams free kick at the other was blocked by a Horsham head.
Pelling beat out another Dunn free kick diving to his left in the first two minutes of the second half and Horsham doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Napper’s back post header had just too much on it for Pelling to keep out.
Passes were going astray and frustration was mounting among the home supporters, but Horsham gifted United a route back into the match in the 65th minute. Jahmahl King left his backpass woefully short and Kenny Pogue rounded Hunter to score, although Dunn felt he had been fouled by Danny Ellis seconds earlier.
Moments later there was a major flare-up which resulted in United going down to 10 men and Horsham nine. It all started when Adams reacted angrily to a tackle from Scott Harris, Pogue then got involved and most of the players on both sides quickly followed.
After things eventually settled down, the referee showed a red card to United midfielder Tim Olorunda, whose part in the melee took him virtually into the away dugout, before dismissing Horsham duo Ryan Marriott and King.
The U’s controversially got back on level terms in the 77th minute. The linesman adjudged that Gary Charman had handled inside his own box - a decision which the experienced Horsham player strongly disagreed with - and Adams rolled home the resulting penalty despite Hunter going the right way.
United took an unlikely lead in the 81st minute. Jordan Woodley had only been on the pitch a couple of minutes when he unleashed a cracking strike from 25 yards which flashed into the corner of the net. Horsham goalkeeping coach Rob Frankland was dismissed for his reaction.
Pogue had a great chance to wrap the game up for United in the 90th minute only to be foiled by Hunter having been put through by Adams. Odunaike then fired just wide at the other after turning Ben Judge.
Ellis wasted a three-on-one opportunity for United by blazing over, but made amends moments later by squaring for Pogue, who teed up Woodley to score his second and put the seal on a highly improbable victory.
United: Pelling, Slocombe, Richardson (Woodley 79), Darby, Judge, Gilbert, Ellis, Olorunda, Pogue, Adams, Camara (Aladetoun 59). Subs not used: Henson, Branco, Burbridge. Attendance: 310.