The lowest ranked team in the competition, Hastings United, and Harrogate Town of Conference North, met to fight for the right to make the trip to Championship side Middlesbrough in the third round of the FA Cup. Isthmian Premier side United earned the replay thanks to Jamie Crellin’s equaliser in the first game. Unfortunately, he was suspended for this match.
It was a four thousand sellout for the game, and it was the home side who started the brighter of the two at Pilot Field, an early corner from captain Lee Carey was headed straight at Macgillivray by Sean Ray. At the other end, Danny Forrest shot narrowly wide after six minutes. Carey’s delivery from set pieces was an early source of concern for the Harrogate defence, with MacGillivray having to deal with another floated free kick in the opening ten minutes.
All in all, it was a fairly nervy start from both sides, but I guess that is understandable given what was at stake in the match, and indeed it went a little flat after the first ten minutes or so. In fact, it was the 22nd minute before we had another shot on goal, and it was the visitors who had the chance. Building from the back, the ball was worked forward to Danny Forrest, and he fed a lovely ball through to Luke Dean who shot first time, but Max Armstrong-Ford beat the ball away for a corner. From said set piece, Tom Platt headed narrowly wide. Dean then had a header blocked after a good cross from Chib Chelaka. The higher placed Yorkshire team were starting to impose their authority on the match. After 29 minutes, removal man Paul Beesley headed wide from a left wing cross.
The home side were really struggling to get any sort of foothold in the game. Nine minutes before the break, Luke Dean hit an ambitious shot from out on the left touchline that drifted wide. Chelaka was then unable to turn a cross in at the near post, although it was more a case of the ball hitting him than him getting a purposeful touch. Nothing much of note happened for the remainder of the half, and the referee brought an end to a goalless forty five minutes of football, but he did anger the home fans, when he awarded a corner to Hastings but then blew the whistle for half time before they were able to take it! Half time Hastings United 0 Harrogate Town 0.
There was a dramatic start to the second half, when Hastings United were awarded a penalty after Matt Bloomer felled Zac Attwood, leaving the referee with an easy decision to make. Lee Carey stepped up and slotted the kick expertly past MacGillivray to get the home fans dreaming of a long trip to Teesside in January. A couple of minutes later, Jack Dixon fired over as United looked for a second. Town responded, with Beesley heading wide from a cross on the right wing from Dwayne Samuels. The visitors continued to press, and had three corners in quick succession which caused a bit of havoc in the Hastings box. Bloomer, looking to make amends for giving away the spot kick, saw a shot blocked from one of these corners.
Jack Dixon continued to try his luck from distance, and although he put one well over, his next effort on 56 minutes was a beauty. He struck it venomously from twenty five yards, and MacGillivray could only beat the ball out into the path of Attwood, but the striker could only fire wide as the ball came at him quickly. Just after the hour, Town made the first substitution of the match, with Liam Hardy replacing Chib Chelaka in a like for like swap. Indeed, they then made their second change seven minutes later, as Lee Elam replaced Forrest, and then Jonny Allan replaced Paul Beesley as manager Simon Weaver played all his cards in an effort to get back into the game.
It was the home side who had the next chance, though, when manager Ray header over from a corner taken by his captain Carey. United then made their first change, Scott Manning replacing Tom Vickers. Chances were at a premium, and other than a comedy free kick for Harrogate, when the ball was touched and everyone just stood there, nothing of note happened. Bradley Goldberg came into the game with a lot of people watching with interest, but he didn’t have much of an impact on proceedings, and was replaced by Dee Okojie with seven minutes remaining. And it was the substitute who could have sealed the win, but he shot wide from eighteen yards after a good break from United with four minutes to go.
Harrogate pushed for the goal that would force another thirty minutes, but Elam was denied as defenders flung themselves in front of his shot. However, from the corner, Tom Platt volleyed home at the far post with a minute to go to level matters, and he fired a volley over from twenty yards shortly afterwards. And so it was that the match finished 1-1, just as the first game did, and an extra thirty minutes play beckoned. Full Time Hastings United 1 Harrogate Town 1
Harrogate had the first chance of the extra period, after a couple of minutes, when right back Dwayne Samuels drove down the pitch and fired a spectacular shot just wide of the angle of Armstrong-Ford’s goal. Danny Ellis at the other end had a good effort tipped away by MacGillivray. The resulting corner almost led to a goal, with the defence just managing to clear their lines and conceding another corner. From this one, Ray headed on and a shot came in from Attwood. The effort was definitely going in, but unfortunately it struck Okojie on the line. Half Time Extra Time Hastings United 1 Harrogate Town 1
Hastings were on the attack immediately from the restart, Carey driving forward and finding Ellis, whose delightful curler was tipped over by MacGillivray. At the other end, Liam Hardy cut inside well and beat a couple of defenders before shooting agonisingly wide of the near post. It was a glorious opportunity, one that he probably should have scored after doing all the hard work.
And so, after two full matches and thirty extra minutes, there was still nothing between the two teams, and it went to a penalty shootout. Harrogate Town started the shootout, and after both clubs scored their first kick, Tom Platt – who scored the equaliser – blazed his kick way over the bar, and Matt Whitehead scored to give Hastings the lead after two kicks apiece. Everyone then scored their kicks, leaving Danny Ellis with the job of converting the fifth kick to put Hastings through. However, he blasted over much like Platt did to take the shootout into sudden death. Elam then blasted his kick over, and the impressive Dee Okojie was left with the opportunity to write his name in the headlines. He duly did just that, and Hastings United progress to the third round, and that glamour tie at Middlesbrough, courtesy of a 5-4 shootout win.