Non-League day is now a staple in the football calendar, it’s one Saturday a season (usually over the international break) where fans are encouraged to watch some non-league football.
Understandably, the turnout at Pilot Field was strong today for today’s FA Trophy Preliminary Round. Hastings United normally get a good crowd anyway, with the U’s average attendance the second highest in the league, but today it was even higher with about 500 plus fans watching the U’s take on Whyteleafe.
Hastings started in control, the defence playing it around themselves with Adam Lovatt sitting just in front keeping things ticking over.
However, this casual play allowed Whyteleafe to get the opening goal of the game, a hospital pass in front of the penalty area from Sam Cruttwell was latched on to and finished first time by the instep of Bryan Akongo.
Youssouf Bamba was a described as the “best left winger in the league” by manager Chris Agutter who handed the Frenchman his debut today. Bamba was involved in everything good the U’s did in the first half, working Tyler McCarthy on multiple occasions in the Leafe goal.
And the equaliser would come through Bamba, who delivered in a cross which was fumbled by McCrthy allowing Jack Dixon to nod in from no more than two yards.
However, Whyteleafe had a danger man of their own in top scorer Eddie Dsane. His first real chance was when he was put through one on one with Charlie Horlock, but unfortunately for the travelling support, Dsane couldn’t keep his effort down.
At half time Us manager Chris Agutter brought on Emmanuel Mensah for Jamie Fielding. The substitute had a minute to forget just before the hour mark though when he was hit in the face with a wayward clearance and conceded a penalty seconds later. A penalty which Dsane would convert.
Whyteleafe were now firmly on top, Dsane was put through on goal prior to turning Mensah and Horlock inside out before finishing with his right. 1-3.
But Hastings nightmare second half didn’t stop there. Agutter was sent to the stands for saying too much to the officials, then Whyteleafe made it four when Bentley Graham rounded Horlock and before finishing.
Hastings were laborious on the ball, but were offered a lifeline when Sam Adams was bundled over in the penalty area. Captain Adams would take the penalty but McCarthy was the man of the hour; saving Adams spot kick then denying Bamba from the follow up.
That penalty miss was made even more frustrating after Daniel Ajakaiye slotted into the left-hand corner for the U’s in added time. A classic case of too little too late.
Nevertheless, the Hastings are doing well in the league, currently sitting in the play off spots. They make the trip to Guersey next Sunday while Whyteleafe welcome Thamesmead Town. Both sides then play each other a week later in what will be a big chance for Hastings revenge.