Extra-time play-off heartache for Hastings
RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION 1 SOUTH P/OFF SEMI-FINAL – Tuesday April 29 2014
Folkestone Invicta 3 Chappell 8, Luchford 67, Ferguson o.g. 113
Hastings United 2 Olorunda 49, Adams 75
Hastings United’s promotion ambitions ended in a cruel extra-time defeat at Folkestone after an absorbing semi-final.
The U’s equalised twice through Tim Olorunda and Sam Adams after putting in arguably a season’s-best performance.
But their dreams were shattered seven minutes away from a penalty shoot-out as substitute Nathan Ferguson stuck out a leg and diverted a pass into his own net.
It left United with precious little time to respond and Folkestone held out to put them one more win away from the Ryman Premier Division.
United began the game with a new 5-4-1 formation, aimed at limiting the threat of Folkestone’s prolific attack, spearheaded by the Hull City-bound Johan Ter Horst and ex-Lewes marksman Paul Booth.
Hastings boss Terry White sprung further surprises by including Tristan Toney at left midfield and Russell Eldridge in the middle, the Little Common player-manager featuring for United for the first time in three years.
The home side took eight minutes to open the scoring, centre-back Frankie Chappell – whose late header consigned the U’s to defeat in the league meeting between the two teams a fortnight earlier – striking in near-identical fashion.
After initially struggling to adapt to their new shape, United began to warm to their task, Eldridge dragging a couple of 20-yard efforts wide and Adams firing straight at the keeper from a similar range.
The second half was less than four minutes old when the U’s drew level.
Adams’ driven cross found its way to the far post where Olorunda turned it goalwards and home captain Liam Friend deflected the ball past Roberts for a suitably scrappy equaliser.
Folkestone responded well, with Dane Luchford and Chappell missing chances to quickly restore their advantage, but when they did go back in front, it was the talismanic Ter Horst who was ultimately the catalyst.
The 18-year-old, who will join Hull in the summer after impressing Tigers boss Steve Bruce, turned away from two challenges before cutting an intelligent low cross back towards the edge of the area for Luchford to steer an excellent low shot into the corner.
It took United barely eight minutes to restore parity. A Taser Hassan cross was cleared only as far as Adams and he drilled a shot goalwards which took a slight touch on its way into the bottom corner.
Josh Vincent’s long range effort that United keeper Josh Pelling helped around the post was as close as either team came to grabbing a winner in the closing stages, and extra time saw the U’s claim the ascendancy as Invicta perhaps started to tire a little after their weekend trip to Guernsey.
But in the 113th minute of an epic encounter, the home side broke after a United corner had been cleared and Vincent’s attempted pass ballooned up off the outstretched leg of the retreating Ferguson and looped agonisingly over Pelling’s despairing leap.
Pelling denied Ter Horst a fourth Folkestone goal but even the U’s player of the year was unable to inspire his outfield colleagues and their season duly came to a heartbreaking conclusion a few minutes later.
FOLKESTONE INVICTA: 1 Tim Roberts; 2 Josh Vincent, 3 Chris Elliott, 4 Liam Friend, 5 Frankie Chappell, 6 Matt Newman, 7 Michael Yianni, 8 Dane Luchford (sub 12 James Everitt, 89), 9 Johan Ter Horst, 10 Paul Booth (sub 14 Phil Stevenson, 99), 11 Michael Everitt (sub 18 Roland Edge, 111).
Subs not used: 15 Connor Coyne, 16 Simon Austin.
HASTINGS UNITED: 1 Josh Pelling; 2 Matt Darby, 3 Sam Cruttwell (sub 15 Tom O’Connor, 104), 4 Tim Olorunda, 5 Ben Judge, 6 Tristan Toney (sub 16 Nathan Ferguson, 99), 7 Taser Hassan, 8 Charlie Bachellier (sub 12 Kenny Pogue, 72), 9 Frankie Sawyer, 10 Sam Adams, 11 Russell Eldridge.
Subs not used: 14 Josh Oyinsan, 17 Greg Nessling.
Attendance: 951 // Referee: Mr. J. Richardson (Northwood, Middlesex).