Tony Rickson reports
Saturday 5th January 2019
By Tony Rickson
Bostik League South East Division
Hastings United (5) 5 (Dixon 14, 43, 45, Mongoy 19, Ajakaiye 25) Sittingbourne (0) 0, Attendance: 430
Hastings United: Charlie Horlock, Ollie Black, Jack Tucker, Tom Climpson, Jahmal Howlett-Mundle, Sam Cruttwell (Youssouf Bamba, 66 min), Daniel Ajakaiye, Sam Adams (Antonio Walker-Barth, 45 min), Jordy Mongoy, Jamie Fielding (Lanre Azeez, 74 min), Jack Dixon (Yellow card). Subs not
used: Sonny Dullaway, Cameron Williams.
Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee, Danny Devine, Rob Lofting, Dylan Riches, Chris Webber (Yellow card), Ben Fitchett (Yellow card), Gil Carvalho, Lewis Chambers (Yellow card), Nathan Elder, Tommie Fagg (Chukwumdike Otuadinma, 66 min), Izzy Adebayo (David Latunde, 69 min). Subs not used:
Tom Loynes, Mason East.
Referee: John Pike (Hassocks), Assistants: Will Briers (Brighton), Chris Britton (Brighton).
What a horrible start to the New Year as Sittingbourne were outclassed on the day.
A very young makeshift side was swept away in the first half by high-riding Hastings as the home team showed no mercy to score five times in just half-an-hour.
Hastings cashed in on the Sittingbourne disarray caused by players quitting and those remaining having little confidence at the moment.
From the previous week Sittingbourne were without Dan Parkinson, Ira Jackson, David Smith and Bola Dawodu and on top of that Lex Allan was out suspended and Tom Loynes wasn’t fit enough after injury to take up more than a token space on the substitute’s bench.
That’s too many decent players missing at once, but it meant Rob Lofting, Izzy Adebayo and player-coach Nathan Elder were able to return to the starting line-up and promising youngster Dylan Riches got his first full game of the season.
As dominant and positive as Hastings were in a one-sided first half, four of their five goals came from set pieces, with Sittingbourne caught out too often by fairly basic moves.
While it was a day to forget, at least Sittingbourne’s travelling fans were as noisy and good-humoured as ever – good on them for out-singing the home supporters even while their team were getting hammered.
On a chilly Sussex afternoon, Hastings began like a club in hot pursuit of Cray Wanderers at the top of the table and seemed to take absolute control of the midfield area with more bodies in that area than Sittingbourne.
They set up a huge scramble in the Sittingbourne six-yard box after nine minutes following a throw-in that was even longer than Lewis Chambers can manage.
And they took the lead five minutes later when a corner from the left beyond the far post was headed back across goal for Dixon to score from close range. It was an identical move to the one that gave Herne Bay their winning goal in the previous Sittingbourne match.
One soon became two when Mongoy showed great skill to cut in from the left and score Hastings’ only goal from open play as he drove the ball past Patrick Lee from a narrow angle – it reminded me of Raheem Sterling scoring, and that’s a compliment.
Sittingbourne were rocking and captain Chris Webber and Lewis Chambers were booked in quick succession before Hastings got a third on 25 minutes. And it was the same tactics as for the first goal with an overhit corner headed back across for Ajakaiye to score from a couple of yards out.
After Hastings hit the post they got a fourth after 43 minutes when a huge throw-in from way out was back-headed straight in by Dixon. Who says that long throws never produce goals.
And the Hastings midfielder completed his hat-trick two minutes later, outjumping everyone to score with a powerful header from yet another home corner.
‘We’re going to win six-five’ sang the Sittingbourne fans to greet the second half and although nobody believed them at least their later chant of ‘nil-nil in the second half’ was on target.
In cricket terms, Hastings declared on five and basically played out the half with a lot of possession at the back and the occasional quickfire raids up front by lively and pacy substitutes.
Sittingbourne stayed in the game, with Webber leading by example and constantly urging his colleagues on, and praise to them for that. They didn’t create many goal opportunities but at least they didn’t concede the sort of throw-ins and corners that led to such a hatful of first half goals.
It was quite a learning curve for youngsters like Riches and Lofting, but they’ll be all the better for the experience. Sittingbourne now have a fortnight’s break to regroup and hopefully rebuild a squad good enough to lift them away from the wrong end of the league table.