Football, they say, is a game of two halves. And that’s what a near-capacity, grudging crowd got at the Stade Geriatrico tonight.

Hastings Hornets were stung in the first 20 minutes by three breakaway goals from the visiting Eastbourne Seconds. The home side played all the football, did all the talking and completely penned their seaside rivals in their own half for most of the first period. But it’s goals which count, not possession, and Eastbourne had a sack of them courtesy of a dismal performance by The Cat who simply couldn’t raise his game. He got fingertips to one goalward shot, allowed another to squirm under his not inconsiderable midriff and was well beaten by the third.

But it might have been a very different game: Chairman Phil scored in the first 30 seconds with a lovely shot low to Eastbourne Tony’s right but the ref ruled it out for Bobby Dazzler running off the ball. If that goal had stood then heads would have been half an inch higher in the Hornets’ nest and who knows what would have happened?

The Two Johnnies – Dyer and Martin – were towering in defence and Hairy Brian was causing all sorts of problems for the Eastbourners but Hastings could not convert pressure into goals.

Then came Act 2, and suddenly the Hornets had a sting in their tail after a rousing half-time team rant by Iron Russ. The drift of it was, are you here to play football or just watch? Henry V before Harfleur has nothing on him.

Matty Longshanks justified his inclusion with two great goals in as many minutes and it looked as though Hastings might just nick it. But then, a quick break, a dodgy overhead decision and another goal – which the Cat could only claw at again. 2-4 with ten minutes on the clock.

Finally Scouse Phil got in the game up front, after spending most of the first half as a holding number nine, and took a super goal to make it 3-4. Then the Cat lost it for the Hornets with a fumble that went through his hands and into the net with all the force of an asthmatic blowing through a wet straw. 3 – 5.

The Chairman netted his second of the evening to keep Hastings in the hunt and with an extra five minutes they might have forced a draw. It finished
4 -5 to Eastbourne.

You need a bit of luck as a keeper and both Tonys (Eastbourne’s number 1 is also called Tony) didn’t do much other than pick the ball out of the back of the net and luck deserted them both.

It was a keenly fought contest and the score line flattered the visitors but the game was played in great spirit and enjoyed by all.

Jesse the ref was firm but fair all evening and aside from his not giving two overhead decisions to the home side – which both resulted in goals for Eastbourne – didn’t have a lot to concern himself with. Carol’s after-match tea – even if it was a bit fruit-heavy – was enjoyed by all combatants.

And there are lessons to be learned. Pressure doesn’t count for naff all. Possession is not nine tenths of the game and if your keeper is a plonker you are sunk without a trace. Touchline Mike and Puffing Paul showed a couple of neat touches and the strikers showed pure class when the chips were down.


MoM: Has to be Hairy Brian who was tireless throughout and as effective up-front as a provider as he was at the back allowing JD to push forward late on.