What a game of walking football that was!
Hastings hosted top of the league Battle at the Stade Geriatrica and came out winners in a five-goal thriller.
Injuries and another foreign holiday for Magic Wond – topping up his tan for the third time in as many months – meant there were doubts about Hastings’ squad but these were dispelled with a memorable performance.
Ricky was called into action early saving well from a tricksy shot in the first minute and Battle were definitely out of the traps quicker. They went one up inside five minutes and for a while it looked as though they might stay on top.
But yard by yard, minute by minute, the talents of the Hastings lads began to shine through.
The unusual defensive partnership of Blakey and Speedy Steve – who was wearing his wife’s leggings – began to get the measure of the Battle forwards and it was not long before their keeper began a long series of tests. He was up to the mark until our own Massive Mark beat him down to his left with a rifled shot that went in off the post.
If this was supposed to be an under-strength Hastings side then it really didn’t show. Thanks to Cookie Monster and Massive Mark linking so well from the back and Chairman Phil’s holding play, Hastings began to dominate proceedings.
Cookie’s goal for 2-1 was a well-placed shot. He curled it into the top corner after thundering one wide just moments earlier. The rattle was on Battle. But they were far from beaten.
Ricky made two great stops with his legs to keep his side ahead at the turnaround.
And in the second period Hastings turned the screw.
Cookie Hit the bar, the Chairman hit the post and it was against the run of play that the visitors equalized.
Then came a free kick, softly squared by Speedy Steve which Blakey leathered goalwards only for a lucky deflection to take it wide.
Then Cookie struck with what turned out to be the winner.
And – if he hadn’t been blue-carded for three running offences (although I counted FIVE) he might have got his hat trick.
Welsh triallist Touchline Mike got on for ten minutes and was cool, calm and cariad Carmarthenshire in defence.
And although Doc Dyer only got on for the last seven, he again showed what a powerful influence he can exert on any game with deft touches and a rock-solid performance which shored up the midfield. We never actually parked the bus but it was definitely in the layby.
The only downside was Mark limping off with a thigh strain after a mis-timed shot. He gamely struggled on but should really have gone the moment he tweaked it. It will be a few weeks before this valuable player kicks a ball in anger again.
A great team performance, superb individual shows from Ricky and Steve, and a definite man of the match for the Cookie Monster who was beaming from ear to ear with his brace of goals.
The team: Ricky in goal with Speedy and Blakey in defence, Scouse Phil up front with Mark and Cookie in midfield. Subs: Touchline Fach and Doc.
On the secondary pitch Super Dunc put the other lads through a lovely 5-a-side session with newcomer Kev scoring a beauty, Dunc getting an absolute hatful and ZZ Nick again besting the Cat – he really does have the voodoo hoodoo on the tubby keeper. Ken had a couple of great shots on target and Legendary Rog and New Andy linked together really well. The Nutkin made a Lazarus-like recovery from a few niggles to make a string of good saves; Doc Dyer came over from the main match to keep warm and he was welcomed warmly on a freezing night.
Good support from the lads for the first team, a successful return for West Ham Paul – with a confident and well-judged run out after shaking off his injury and superb sideline coaching from Iron Russ made this great night for the club.
MoM: Cookie Monster.