Hastings United Football Club saw a 2-0 lead turn into a 4-2 defeat at home to Herne Bay tonight (Tuesday).
Davide Rodari’s double ultimately counted for nothing as Hastings conceded once just before half time and three times during the second half of the Bostik League Division One South fixture.
Playing just their third home game of the season and first since the August Bank Holiday Monday, Hastings drew first blood with a very bizarre goal after 10 minutes.
Everyone seemed to stand around expecting the referee to blow for a foul when away goalkeeper Ben Hunter spilled a hanging Sam Cruttwell cross. Rodari casually back-heeled the loose ball into the net and even he looked surprised when the goal was allowed to stand.
After Jack Steventon headed wide when unmarked for Herne Bay, Hastings doubled their lead with a nicely worked goal in the 17th minute. Rodari played a one-two with Billy Medlock and shimmied his way into a shooting position before firing a left-foot shot into the far bottom corner.
Jack Dixon’s downward header from a Bradley Pritchard cross was pushed aside by Hunter and Sam Adams, playing his first home match since returning to Hastings, drove over from 25 yards.
Herne Bay played some nice football, but created little until pulling one back in the 42nd minute. Jake Embery clipped the ball just over the head of Cruttwell, giving Alex Mulrooney-Skinner the chance to run through and slot past Charlie Horlock in the home goal.
After Horlock pushed away a Mulrooney-Skinner shot at the end of the first half, Hastings had a chance less than 20 seconds into the second period. Medlock drove the ball across goal, but Sonny Dullaway couldn’t connect at the far post.
Herne Bay, who fielded former Hastings players Jono Richardson and Danny Leonard, were level barely two minutes later. Mulrooney-Skinner skipped past his man on the away right and delivered an inviting cross for Embery to nod home from close range at the far post.
Just before the hour, Medlock was put through by a lovely pass from Dixon but his attempt to round Hunter was unsuccessful. Seconds later at the other end, Mulrooney-Skinner brought a diving stop out of Horlock.
Junior Aikhionbare spurned a great chance to give Herne Bay the lead when he headed a Mulrooney-Skinner cross over the top. But the visitors did hit the front in the 67th minute when Josh Wisson headed Tom Carlton’s corner into the far bottom corner of the net.
Dean Bown, making his Hastings debut as a substitute, glanced Pritchard’s cross just wide of the far post and Dixon shot just over from outside the area, while at the other end, Embery couldn’t quite turn home Carlton’s cross.
Herne Bay were by now looking dangerous every time they attacked and the outstanding Mulrooney-Skinner was simply tearing Hastings to shreds with his pace and ability on the right.
Mulrooney-Skinner was again the architect of Herne Bay’s fourth goal in the 80th minute, delivering another fine ball for Embery to sweep into the net, and seal an impressive and well-deserved comeback victory.
Hastings: Horlock, Pritchard, Cruttwell, Dixon, Climpson, Rowe, Adams, Janneh (Bown 65), Rodari, Medlock, Dullaway. Subs not used: Aziaya, Carey, Gayler, Black. Attendance: 298.