After our recent unbeaten run in the league, the Hillians would have been full of confidence heading into our Sussex Senior Cup encounter with Gary Elphick’s Hastings United. It was the U’s who had the better start, pacy winger Knory Scott was played in down the left but his shot was comfortable for the returning Taylor Seymour. The same man had the next chance, as Harry Docherty left a back pass to Seymour short and Scott pounced but could only poke his effort straight at the onrushing Hillians number 1. Hastings next effort was from a free kick as Jack Bates got it up and over the wall but couldn’t get it on target. Knory Scott was proving a real handful for Reggie Ward down the left hand side, as the visitors next effort saw him come infield and then cut back onto his left and force a fingertip save from Seymour. Hill’s first effort on goal almost resulted in the opener. Connor Tighe did really well to win the ball in the midfield, he drove into the box and forced Louis Rogers to parry it but luckily for the U’s stopper the ball went through Pat Harding’s legs who was following up. Pat Harding did have an effort on goal moments later but his goal bound strike was well closed down by a U’s defender. After the little flurry of Hill pressure it was back to Seymour making some more saves, Tom Chalmers charged down a Harry Pollard clearance and found himself in on goal but he couldn’t beat the Hillians stopper who was in inspired mood. For all the visitors neat passing it was a long ball which almost broke the deadlock. Knory Scott got in behind Harry Docherty but as he looked to fire the ball past Seymour, the keeper got a big right hand on it to turn it away. Taylor Seymour was at it again shortly after as a Jack Bates free kick was plum on the head of Sam Adams but Seymour diving away to his left kept it out. The Hill’s and Seymour’s resistance was eventually broken in the 40th minute. Kenny Pogue started the move, laying it out wide to Knory Scott, he pulled the back for Sam Adams to run on to and thwack the ball into the far corner to give the visitors the lead. The Hillians tried to get level immediately as Michael Campbell layed a ball off for Connor Tighe to unleash but his effort crashed wide of the goal.
The second half started slowly but once again it was Hastings’ pacy danger man Knory Scott who was causing all the trouble. The U’s counter attacked and Scott found himself one on one again but he tried to dink Seymour this time and the stopper got something on it to prevent the Bermudan international from getting a deserved goal. As long as the game remained just 1-0 the Hill were always in with a chance, and Hastings knew it. They tried to get the all important second goal as Jack Bates curled an effort wide from the edge of the area but until they put the Greens away, you feel they might’ve come to rue these missed openings. Heading into the last 20 minutes and the Hill started to show signs of life going forward. A wicked run and cross from Dan Cadman was a centimetre too high for Michael Campbell before Reggie Ward crossed from the other side and his cross was a centimetre infront of him! Hastings had persisted with playing out from the back all evening and it almost cost them as we caught them in possession, Charlie Kelly had a left footed effort which was on target unfortunately blocked by his own man which summed up the luck infront of goal for the Hill. Suddenly the pressure was all us, new signing Hayden Skerry had a penalty appeal waved away before Scott Kirkwood smashed a free kick over the bar as the Hillians tried to get back into the game. A marauding run down the left by Reggie Ward ignited another late Hillian chance, he found Charlie Kelly who whipped a teasing ball along the carpet which Louis Rogers palmed it away and out of reach of the onrushing Max Miller. As the clock struck 90, frustration boiled over for Harry Pollard as he was given his marching orders for an off the ball incident. The 10 men didn’t let it halt their efforts as Max Miller twisted and turned down the left, whipping a cross for the oncoming Charlie Kelly, he met it sweetly and it was destined for the bottom corner until Rogers got down tremendously and stuck a big left hand out to just about tip it around the post. You always get one final chance and this one fell to Super Pat, Skerry crossed it to the back post and found an unmarked Harding, but he headed wide from a difficult angle. There was just enough time for the visitors to almost seal the deal, Jack Dixon was found by Freddie Legg but after beating Reggie Ward he dragged his effort from 18 yards past the post.
Hastings deservedly progress into the next round but a rotated Hillians side certainly put up a hell of a fight. Good luck to our visitors in the next round.
Next up, we turn our attention back to league action as we welcome East Grinstead Town to the More Than Tyres Stadium on Saturday afternoon.