Heartbreak as Harrogate Town lose Battle of Hastings

Harrogate Town's Chib Chilaka challenges for the ball with Hasting's Matt Whitehead. Picture by Gerard Binks.
Harrogate Town's Chib Chilaka challenges for the ball with Hasting's Matt Whitehead. Picture by Gerard Binks.

Hastings United will travel to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup third round after beating Harrogate Town 5-4 on penalties at Pilot’s Field.

It was a cruel end for Town’s FA Cup run, but despite clawing their way back into the tie in the second half, the lottery of spot kicks proved a step too far after two hours of exhausting football.

A tentative first half ended nil-nil, with Town just about wrestling their way on top after Hastings were unable to keep up the early pace they had set. Luke Dean went closest for the visitors with shot parried away by ‘keeper Matt Armstrong-Ford, although Hastings also had a chance when Danny Ellis saw his attempt palmed away by Town’s Craig MacGillivray.

But Hastings stormed out of the blocks after the restart, and Town were rocked back on their heels.

Skipper Lee Carey fired the Rymans League hosts into a 47th minute lead after Matt Bloomer brought Zac Attwood down in the box.

Town looked to be going out, unable to find a goal and boss Simon Weaver took off striker Chib Chilaka, Paul Beesley and winger Danny Forrest in a bid to kickstart the tie.

However, as all looked lost, Tom Platt latched on to the end of a Dave Merris corner in the 90th minute, aided by a flap from Hastings’ keeper Matt Armstrong-Ford.

Thirty minutes of tense extra time followed, but neither side was able to produce a winner in open play.

And so it went to spot kicks, with the Riverside waiting.

Town went first and netted through Adam Bolder, before Jack Dixon made it 1-1 sending Craig MacGillivray the wrong way.

Platt was next up, but the player, who had suffered with cramp in extra time skied his kick over the bar. Matt Whitehead shot Hastings into a 2-1 lead but Jonny Allan scored for Town with a calm finish in to the top corner.

Hastings skipper Lee Carey scored to put Hastings 3-2 up before Liam Hardy’s cool finish made it 3-3. Zac Attwood fired into the bottom right corner to make it 4-3 Hastings, but Luke Dean slammed home to make it 4-4. Hastings were closing in on their fifth, only for Danny Ellis to send the ball over the bar.

Town had their chance to pounce but Lee Elam put it wide, and it was sudden death.

A confident Dee Okojie stepped up and comfortably steered home the winner, to book Hastings’ coach to Middlesbrough.