Lovell satisfied with hard-earned draw
STEVE Lovell declared himself reasonably satisfied with a hard-won 1-1 draw from Hastings United's Bank Holiday Monday trip to Dorking.
The result meant they picked up four out of a possible six points from a hectic weekend programme.
But it could have been even better had Hastings added to Russell Eldridge's first half strike before conceding a sloppy equaliser seven minutes into the second period.
"I'm disappointed not to win because I thought we did enough but then again I'm not disappointed we did get something out of the game," said Lovell. "The players worked very hard and kept their shape."
The Hastings manager knew what lay in store from the moment he rolled into the homely Meadowbank ground which would not look out of place in County League football, while the playing surface was the standard usually associated with the park. "It was one of the worst pitches I had ever seen," said Lovell. "It just wasn't a pitch for football."
As a consequence Hastings were forced to play a more direct game with the sprightly Steve Hafner gaining his first start of the season, while the Bambiesque Peter Sayer and Mitchell Sherwood warmed the bench.
Hastings began in their now customary sluggish fashion and Danny Knowles needed to be on his toes to save from Stewart Vaughan inside the first five minutes. Knowles was called into action again just moments later after Craig Duffell had found himself in acres of space behind the advanced Jimmy Elford.
It wasn't until the 31st minute that Hastings really threatened the Dorking goal when Chris Honey was unable to make a proper connection from Ryan Peters' corner to the far post.
Duffell failed to make the most of another opening and the miss was made to look even more profligate when Hastings broke the deadlock four minutes before the interval.
Peters won possession deep in the Dorking half and fed Carl Rook who in turn found Honey and his long range shot smacked against the back of a defender and ran into the path of the overlapping Eldridge. The left wing-back hardly broke stride as he lifted his finish over the advancing Stuart Baverstock and into the far corner of the net.
Honey had a great chance to double the lead right on half time but sliding in, could not keep his first time finish down. Early in the second half Hafner hooked goalwards from close range and at that point Hastings seemed well in command.
But the introduction of man-mountain Marlon Campbell changed all that. The lanky striker immediately caused confusion at a long throw and, after Knowles had come and missed, the ball lurched goalwards, hit one of the many ruts in the six yard box and bounced beyond a covering defender on the line.
Both sides could have won it late on as Steve Coyle shot across goal for the home side and Alan Tutton headed against the foot of the Dorking post.
Lovell concluded: "It was a good point and not a bad performance on that pitch."