There’s nothing much that beats a derby game.
Except when it’s in the WFA cup and it’s so tight it goes to penalties. And the deciding kick is taken by one super keeper against another remarkable shot-stopper. You couldn’t make it up!
Hastings United knocked Bexhill out of the cup at Les Academias Decrepido tonight in front of a capacity travelling crowd.
One-all at full time, there was nothing added in the extra ten minutes and so it came down to penalties.
Massive Mark – who’d been denied for 50 minutes by Big H – stepped up for the first pen and leathered it past him. Peter Heritage strode confidently to the edge of the D and placed the ball but his shot to Ricky’s right was well saved. Blakey had to score to keep United ahead and, giving H the eyes, sent him the wrong way and coolly rolled it to his right. Big H had to score to keep Bexhill in it. Howard is a very competent outfield player with a kick like Mons Meg. He was desperate to score past Ricky in the Hastings goal; around 20 Bexhill fans were willing him to fire home. And he scuffed it down the middle only to see it beaten away by Ricky’s substantial midriff.
It was all over. United had triumphed 3-1 and one of the closest run games of walking football seen in Sussex was over.
The visitors came mob handed with a cracking team which included the Three Degrees of Overs, Heritage and Osman. If they turned it on then United knew they would have problems.
Iron Russ was unfazed: he ran the Hastings circus from the back as though there was nothing at stake. With El Jay, Blakey and Cookie coming from deep and neutralizing the triple threat, United had the better half.
The shot count was astonishing with United getting off 15 and Bexhill 9. Trouble was, most of them were off target. Rick only had to save twice but Big H at the other end was slightly busier.
His long legs foiled El Jay twice, he made a great tip-over onto the bar from the Spanish bun merchant too and made two other good stops from Russ and Cookie Monster. He was keeping Bexhill in it.
When Massive Mark latched onto a lovely squared assist from Cookie and United went one up it was nothing more than they deserved. But Bexhill simply refused to roll over and the goal stung them into action.
It was the always-dangerous Steve Overs who equalized- actually with a miss hit that bobbled agonizingly over Ricky’s outstretched hand and in off the post.
Blakey was all over the pitch for United, towering in defence and lethal in attack and if he had had his shooting boots on the game would have been out of sight by the turnaround. Sadly, he, Cookie and Mark, were not having the best night in front of goal.
After the interval it was Bexhill’s game to win. For the first time the Overs-Heritage-Osman trio began to turn it on and they linked well twice to produce threats well saved by Rick. The shot count was six each in the second period and both sides were visibly tiring.
Cookie hit the post with one effort and Howard saved well from MM and El Jay. At the other end Heritage had a shot well blocked by Rick, and El Jay cleaned up afterwards.
Peruvian Mick had a run-out switching with Cookie and El Jay, and his one effort on goal would have won the game but he lost composure and blasted it over. And Heritage had the opportunity to win it with the last chance of the game but found Ricky too good for him. It was definitely Bexhill’s half but they couldn’t convert pressure to goals.
The shot count for the extra periods were 10-4 Hastings and again Big H and Ricky both made great saves to keep the scores level. Perry and Steve both spurned good chances and MM came closest to a winner getting a long leg to a Howard clearance that trickled just wide.
It was fitting that it went to penalties and fitting that Big H and Rick decided the result. Man of the match for Hastings was Blakey who was exactly where he needed to be at all times. Bexhill’s m.o.m. was Big H who made a string of saves and never let his mates down … until he fluffed his penalty. Just saying!
Nice post match prandials from Carole assisted by Sarah appreciated by both sides and the hangers-on. Phil the ref was firm and fair and Bexhill have to be congratulated on their away support.
Meanwhile we had 18 lads playing on the other pitch while a camera crew filmed ZZ Nick for his forthcoming tour. We have come a long way since jumpers for goalposts in the park and we are already looking forward to the next round draw.