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Sam Adams' first penalty kick

Dominant United fail to take all three

11 November 2013 Hastings United 1 – 1 Sittingbourne New arrival, Ronnie Dolan, makes his first United appearance, while Bruno Pacheco and Justin Lee, also new, are on the bench. This is one of United’s games in hand on league leaders Walton Casuals – John Maggs and his side will be looking to take advantage with a potential nine points available from the three games in hand. Liam Willis reports.

United started the game very brightly indeed, with numerous chances falling, the first to United’s Brazilian striker, Rodrigo Branco, whose header was tipped over from a Bailo Camara cross. Ronnie Dolan then came close to a debut goal early on, but Molloy saved at the far post. United became more dominant as the first half progressed, with Sittingbourne seeing little of the ball and United keeper, Josh Pelling, even less. A beautiful give-and-go between Branco and Danny Ellis sent Camara speedily down the right culminating in a cross back to Branco, whose header was saved well to Molloy’s left hand side.

United’s Sam Adams then came close to opening the scoring with a wonderful curling effort from the D, which flashed just wide of Molloy’s right. The United faithful were scratching their head at this point, wondering how and why they weren’t leading the tie against the Kent side. United continued to dominate, despite tackles flying in left, right and centre. A pinball around the penalty area allowed the ball to roll to the unmarked Branco, who shot and forced a corner from Molloy, even though the shot was going wide.

United were constantly attacking with great intent, the balls flying in and with Molloy all of a flap as they spun loose. The first significant chance for Sittingbourne came from Loynes. A shot from the edge of the area on the left, forced a top save from Pelling. After forty minutes, United got the goal they so sorely craved, but it didn’t come without controversy and some deliberation: United were awarded a penalty after Branco was brought down. United’s Sam Adams took the penalty and Molloy made a great save, but couldn’t prevent Branco from running on to the rebound.

Sam Adams' second penalty kick

However Molloy did prevent Branco from scoring on the rebound as he brought him down for the second time and the referee gave United a second penalty just ten seconds after the first. The protests from the Sittingbourne players did nothing to change the referee’s mind – Sam Adams stepped up to take the penalty and just squeezed it past Molloy. The Sittingbourne number one nearly saved it, but the bounce and the back-spin on the ball after hitting Molloy forced United into the lead.

United continued to attack, with Bailo Camara’s effort saved and parried just behind Sam Adams. This ball was cleared and so Sittingbourne had the chance to counter attack. Taylor’s burst down the middle forced a good save from Pelling, but he could only parry to Akhazzan who put the ‘Bourne on level terms just before half time and gave them a lift.

The second half also proved to be a good contest, but with United slightly less dominant. However, United did have the first chance of the half. Branco managed to go round Molloy and shoot from a tight angle, but Ulph cleared off the line to deny United taking the lead once again. Another shot from Akhazzan was blocked from Slocombe before United started to pile on the pressure once more. A sweet interchange between Adams and Camara saw Camara’s shot rise too high of the target, just before Ellis forced a save from Molloy after a shot from range.

Branco was then replaced by Kenny Pogue for United. Pogue was instantly involved in the action when Matt Darby delivered a low cross to Pogue, who probably should’ve done better just in front of goal. Sittingbourne were close to taking the lead themselves from a set piece. A corner from Bourne was cleared before finding its way to Akhazzan whose shot beat Pelling and smacked the left hand post.

Matt Darby then made way for Jordan Woodley, whose impact and recent form was very much needed by United in order to take full advantage of the games in hand on the league leaders. A twenty-five yard freekick from Sam Adams was saved by Molloy low to his left as we approached the final few minutes. Another cross from United saw Pogue’s header tipped over, just before Kelly’s header clipped the crossbar. The referee brought the game to a close to conclude what was a frustrating night for  United, but they do close the gap on Walton Casuals at the top. The point was also as important for Sittingbourne, who will be looking for a lift out of the bottom six.

United starting XI: Pelling, Slocombe, Hare, Darby, Judge, Kelly, Ellis, Dolan, Branco, Adams, Camara.

Subs: Pogue, Gilbert, Woodley, Pacheco, Lee.

Sittingbourne starting XI: Molloy, Brunt, Ulph, Davis, Crimmins, Dunsden, Taylor, Girt, Folkes, Akhazzan, Loynes.

Subs: Golding, Okoh, Tran-West, Hayes, Ibrahim.

Liam Willis is also Hastings United Programme Co-Editor

Posted 17:53 Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 In: Sport

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