Hastings United Football Club’s FA Cup progress was halted by a home defeat this afternoon (Saturday).
The U’s were beaten 2-0 by higher grade Poole Town in third round qualifying, both goals coming from set-pieces at either end of the first half.
United had come through three rounds to reach this stage, but in front of a decent Non League Day crowd of 735, they fell short against a big, strong and efficient Poole side which arrived at The Pilot Field top of the Southern Football League Premier Division.
New signing Simon Johnson went straight into the starting line-up, yet United were behind inside three minutes. Steve Devlin’s deep free kick from the right was headed back across goal and Poole captain Jamie Whisken fired past home goalkeeper Josh Pelling.
Although United had their fair share of the play during the remainder of the first half, Poole certainly looked more threatening in the final third, particularly from dead ball situations with giant centre-halves Whisken and Michael Walker.
Jack Harris headed a Sam Cole cross over the crossbar in United’s only real moment of note during the first half, while at the other end, Pelling made a crucial save with his feet to deny Marvin Brooks, who had broken through the home defence.
Pelling smartly tipped over a Luke Burbridge shot following Alfie Hall’s miskick and then pulled off an even better stop from the resulting Devlin corner to palm Walker’s side-foot volley round the post.
United might just have survived on that occasion, but Poole did double their advantage from the next corner in the 44th minute. Brooks met Devlin’s delivery with a fine header to leave United with a huge uphill task in the second half.
Poole were content to protect their advantage after the break and United struggled to make any headway as the long balls were comfortably dealt with and any passing moves invariably broke down.
As the visitors continued to look dangerous from set-pieces, Pelling tipped over Walker’s looping header and the same player later volleyed too high, both from Devlin deliveries.
United finally managed to mount some pressure during a five-minute spell around the 80-minute mark. Billy Medlock’s close range header at the far post from Sam Cruttwell’s corner was well saved, a penalty shout when Harris’s goalbound shot struck an arm was turned down and a left-foot volley by Ollie Rowe went just wide.
Medlock forced a good tip over from Poole goalkeeper Nick Hutchings in added time, while at the other end, Lewis Tallak blazed over from a good position and an attempted chip by Luke Roberts went straight into Pelling’s arms.
United: Pelling, Crabb, Hall (Temba 72), Rowe, Vickers, Walder, Medlock, Johnson, Adams (Cruttwell 66), Harris, Cole. Subs not used: Ray, Hollobone, Richardson-Brown, Hanifan, Rose. Attendance: 735.
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