Hastings United 2 Swans 1

Monday 3 February 2014.                                                Ryman League, Division One South.

Hastings United 2    Walton & Hersham 1.

Swans’ series of matches against the division’s top sides continued as they played a Hastings United who had only lost one and drawn two of their previous thirteen home games. And as in the previous match against Peacehaven & Telscombe they could well have come away with a worthy draw after trailing 2-0. They had much the better of the play in the second-half, and after getting a goal back early they went desperately close to equalising in stoppage-time.

With goalkeeper Mo Maan unavailable Dane Buss took over between the sticks, and he went down to save a low shot from the edge of the box after twelve minutes. Sam Adams then put a left-foot volley over the bar from the right corner of the box after the ball had been nodded down to him, but Swans had looked comfortable, snuffing out most of the home side’s attacks, so it was disappointing when they conceded after a quarter of an hour. They were opened up on their right, and when the ball was driven in low Andy Lomas could only help it over the line.

Hastings struck a free-kick from 25 yards that flew wide of the right-post before Swans had their best chance just before the half hour. The strong wind blowing mainly towards the home goal was causing Swans to often over-kick, but when Buss sent the ball forward it ran through to Gary Drewett, who cut inside from the left before sending a shot drifting just wide of the far-post. A good build-up then got Peter Wedgeworth cutting in from the left, and although the ball was just scrambled clear Swans’ persistence won them a corner. Wedgeworth struck a low shot wide when Greg Andrews laid a free-kick back to him on the right, and Mu Maan did well before playing Drewett in on the left, but he had unfortunately drifted just offside.

But with just over ten minutes left to the break Swans were caught on the break, and when Danny Ellis was not closed down on the edge of the box he struck a low shot past Buss.

Lomas got Maan on a run down the left, but his cross was taken by home keeper Josh Pelling high-up at his near-post. Swans continued to press for a goal before the break, and when Wedgeworth swung in a free-kick Hastings had to head behind. Wedgeworth took the corner from the right, and when the ball was only cleared to the edge of the box Jon Boswell had a clear chance, but he drove his shot just over.

Swans had trailed 2-0 at the break in the abandoned game back in December, and as then they halved the deficit early in the second-half. Four minutes after the resumption a poor headed clearance on the right fell to Drewett, and he struck a half-volley from the corner of the box. Pelling did well to dive to his right and prevent the ball going in the far-corner, but after it ran loose and was not cleared, André Scarlett found space just inside the box to drive a low shot home.

Andrews put a left foot shot over when the ball came to him just outside the box, while at the other end Vernon Francis had to clear behind at the near-post after Tom Vickers had sent a low cross in from the left. Midway through the half Alan Bray’s misplaced header almost gifted Hastings a goal, but Ellis’s half-volley from 25 yards dipped just wide.

But Swans had dominated play in the second-half, and when Wedgeworth sent over a high cross from the left Drewett headed over the bar from close-in. Sean Kelly put a header over when Hastings took a corner from the right, but at the other end Wedgeworth almost got through on goal. In the final minute of normal-time Dan Dean played a long free-kick forward into the box, and when the ball came out a half-volley from substitute Ashley Thompson brought a save from Pelling on his line.

Swans continued to press for the equaliser, and three minutes into stoppage-time they went desperately close to getting it. Samad Kazi made a fine run on the right to get to the line, and when he got in a low cross fellow substitute Louis Glace-Palmer seemed sure to put the ball over the line from close-in, but somehow it was just taken off his foot at the last moment. Dean then got over a cross from the right to the far-post, where Glace-Palmer planted a header wide.

Swans’ Team: Dane Buss, Dan Dean, Andy Lomas, André Scarlett, Jon Boswell, Alan Bray, Greg Andrews (Louis Glace-Palmer 72’), Vernon Francis (Ashley Thompson 78’), Gary Drewett, Mu Maan (Samad Kazi 72’), Peter Wedgeworth. Sub. not used: Sacha Mbaye. Scorer: Scarlett (49’). Cautions: Boswell, foul (39’), Dean, foul (71’).                            ,  

Hastings Team: Pelling, Darby, Henson, Olorunda, Judge, Kelly (Jirbandey 54’), Ellis, Adams, Pogue (Oynsan 80’), O’Connor (Sawyer 62’), Vickers. Subs. not used: Cruttwell, Dolan. Scorers: Lomas, own goal (15’), Ellis (34’). Caution: Ellis, foul (81’).