Hastings United Football Club produced a superb turnaround after a nightmare start to win a remarkable game this afternoon (Saturday).
Chris Agutter’s side recovered from conceding twice in the first seven minutes to triumph 4-2 at home to Ramsgate in a six-goal Bostik League Division One South thriller.
On a mild but drizzly afternoon at The Pilot Field, Hastings made two changes to the side which started the previous two games. Jack Dixon came in for Bradley Pritchard at right-back and the fit-again Sam Adams replaced Sam Cruttwell in midfield.
Hastings were behind inside three minutes. After they played themselves into trouble in their own defensive third, Tom Chapman partially rounded home goalkeeper Charlie Horlock before crossing to the far post where Alfie Paxman forced the ball home.
Ramsgate doubled their advantage just four minutes later. A low cross from the away right was flicked home at the near post by Ramsgate captain Liam Dickson, who was unmarked inside the six yard box.
It could have been worse for Hastings because Ramsgate went close on three other occasions during the first 10 minutes.
In between the two goals, Chapman struck the base of the far post with a shot from the edge of the box and Dickson headed wide from inside the six yard box at a corner. Soon after the second goal, Chapman’s angled drive at the end of a well-worked move went just wide of the far post.
Hastings gradually settled and started to enjoy the lion’s share of possession. And three goals in 14 minutes amazingly had them ahead by half time.
They opened their account in the 25th minute through a wonderful solo goal by Dayshonne Golding, who received the ball with his back to goal from a throw-in on the right, turned inside and dribbled towards the edge of the box before firing a superb left-foot shot into the corner of the net.
Moments after Horlock did well to tip over a Rory Smith shot, Hastings equalised in the 30th minute. Golding seized open a bizarre ball by Ramsgate midfielder Daniel Lawrence from near the touchline in Hastings’ half back towards his own goal, ran at the covering defender, shifted the ball onto his right foot and curled a delightful finish into the far corner.
Paxman wasn’t too far away with a shot from nearly 30 yards before Hastings hit the front in the 38th minute. Calum Davies headed a ball played up to him back to Sam Adams, who in turn nodded it through for Davies to race on to and slip beyond goalkeeper Luke Watkins as the offside flag stayed down.
It was a half of football you couldn’t take your eyes off and Ramsgate were whiskers away from making it 3-3 when Smith struck the foot of the post after Hastings again lost possession in their defensive third. Seconds before the break, Jack Penny’s chip from around 25 yards landed on the roof of the home net.
The second half started in similarly action-packed fashion, with Smith firing over for Ramsgate from inside the box and Davide Rodari forcing Watkins into a fingertip save low to his left with a shot from 20 yards after a mazy run.
Rodari then hit the near post from the left-hand side of the area with a well-struck volley as the ball bounced up.
Hastings gave themselves breathing space with a fourth goal in the 62nd minute. Golding made his way to the byeline in the left-hand side of the area and his cross was helped goalwards by Ollie Rowe for fellow centre-half Tom Climpson to poke home via the underside of the crossbar from close range.
Although Ramsgate started to see a lot of the ball during the closing 10 or so minutes, Hastings saw the game out fairly comfortably.
Horlock palmed away a cross-shot from Ramsgate substitute Aaron Millbank and a powerful goalbound shot from inside the box was well blocked by Sam Cole, who made his return from over a year out injured as a second half substitute.
Hastings: Horlock, Dixon, Beale, Lovatt, Rowe, Climpson, Rodari (Cole 75), Adams, Davies, Janneh (Ebuzoene 71), Golding (Walker 78). Subs not used: Pritchard, Pogue. Attendance: 316.
Bostik League Division One South top half (played-points): 1 Lewes 24-51, 2 Cray Wanderers 23-48, 3 Corinthian-Casuals 25-48, 4 Carshalton Athletic 25-48, 5 Walton Casuals 25-46, 6 Greenwich Borough 25-45, 7 Phoenix Sports 25-40, 8 Hythe Town 25-40, 9 South Park 22-36, 10 Sittingbourne 24-36, 11 HASTINGS UNITED 24-35, 12 Thamesmead Town 24-34.