Herstmonceux loses out in 11 goal thriller
The ESFL curtain raiser saw Herstmonceux 1st team defeated by a strong Hollington side who will definitely be one of the teams to beat this season.
On a bright afternoon, with conditions perfect for football, the ‘Ceux travelled to Hastings sporting the new white and black strip courtesy of Littlewood who are continuing their sponsorship of the Club.
The first 15 minutes were a cagey affair as both sides probed for an opening without any real luck, but it was Hollington who opened their account after a through ball beat the away team’s offside line, and their striker hammered home the opener. Although this gave the home team confidence, Herstmonceux nearly levelled after good work on the left saw TC Johnston drag his shot across the goal. Shortly after that Hollington added a second, and then after a throw from ‘keeper Whittlesey was intercepted by the Hollington midfield they made it 3-0.
Despite this Herstmonceux continued to play short passing football, with Middleton holding up the ball well and releasing Johnston or Fermin on numerous occasions. Saint was a rock at centre back, and Horane Blackwood showed why he is now playing at left back rather than midfield. As was expected from a Hastings team, the tackles came thick and fast, with the first yellow being shown midway through the first half. The raids and forays into the home team area finally paid off and Johnston was brought down in the area, before duly converting the spot kick. 3-1 and that remained the score until the interval.
In the second half Herstmonceux cranked up the pace with Sheldon coming on for Mendes to add some pace to the forward line, but despite this Hollington continued where they left off adding a 4th goal just after the re-start. As with the 1st half the Hollington side made their presence felt with some robust challenges, and they collected a second yellow for a two-footed challenge. Undeterred they added a 5th soon after and most people would have assumed the game was all but over.
This year, however, Herstmonceux will not be folding under pressure, and with Duncan playing the overlap at right back to good effect, the away team battled back earning a second goal to make it 2-5 after Sheldon swept the ball home. The referee added a second yellow to the Hollington defender’s collection, and Herstmonceux sensed that they could possibly take advantage of this reduction in the opponents’ numbers. Good work again from Gregory and Sutton saw the forward line launch themselves forward, and a rasping shot from Johnston rattle the bar, with Middleton’s fine effort well saved by the Hollington ‘keeper, who went on to make three more point blank stops. Although Hollington added two more goals in a ding-dong finish, Herstmonceux also saw Duncan hit the post, before Johnston rifled home his second, then added a late penalty for his hat trick. Hollington finished the game with 9 after the referee ‘sin binned’ a player with less than 5 minutes remaining, but despite pressing hard, 7-4 remained the final score.
There were, as always, good and bad points with the defeat obviously a disappointment. Herstmonceux will need to find an answer to the long ball out of defence, as they were caught out on several occasions. However, the midfield is packed with quality and a determination to play a high line signals attacking intent. With TC Johnston leading the line, goals will not be hard to come by this year, and Manager Gaz Newton is full of confidence. Next week is another game and three more points are at stake.