Whitehawk victorious in dramatic shootout
Whitehawk won a dramatic penalty shootout to secure the Sussex Dennis Probee Youth Cup (Under-18s) after a breathless final against Hastings United at Culver Road on Thursday night.
The decisive moment came when Hawks goalkeeper Elliot Dailly saved Alagie Touray’s spot-kick. It leaves the Hawks with a chance to secure a league and cup double this season, with four games still to play in the league.
Whitehawk had the better of Hastings United in the first-half and could have got off to a lightening start, after winger Callum Esnouf hit a well struck volley which beat the keeper but could only find the crossbar.
However, they didn’t have to wait long before they opened the scoring.
In the 19th minute, Danny Kingston’s superb delivery saw Toby Reeder’s header sail past Hastings keeper Charlie Holmwood to give the Hawks a deserved lead.
Yet the goal seemed to galvanise Hastings, who immediately set out trying to bring the scores level again.
United’s Finley Chapman was key to them finding their openings in the first-half, notably his shot narrowly missing in the 36th minute.
A minute later though and Whitehawk saw two chances to double their lead pass them by. The first saw Reeder feed it into Jack Duckett but he fired it straight at Holmwood, who mishandled, but was spared any repercussions as he was deemed to have been fouled by Kingston.
The second came once again from Duckett, who this time saw his shot from distance calmly collected by Holmwood, in what was a busy half for the Hastings keeper.
The second-half saw an encouraged start from Hastings, which resulted in an equaliser that could not have come at a better time from captain Josh Turner.
A near post corner saw Whitehawk fail to clear the ball out of danger, resulting in a scramble and Turner bundling it in. With the scores level, Hastings looked like the team with momentum on their side.
But five minutes before the hour mark, defender Cameron Thompson, who was booked early in the first-half, lunged in on Hawks’ Esnouf and was dismissed, leaving Hastings a man down.
However, Ben Cornelius’ side showed incredible resilience to stay in the game.
From that point, the tie became an enthralling end-to-end affair. Hastings could have taken the lead in the 71st minute with Chapman again at the heart of their attack. The midfielder played a well-timed pass to Corbin, who opened his body and aimed for the far post. But, Dailly reacted sharply and executed a brilliant save with his feet.
An even better chance came two minutes after thanks to Touray’s thunderous volley that looked destined to hit the roof of the net but instead smashed against the crossbar.
Whitehawk’s biggest chance came in the 76th minute after Esnouf saw his shot blocked by William Ray and got a second opportunity but opted to cross to fellow teammate Kingston. Like Touray’s chance minutes earlier, Kingston’s attempt seemed destined to give Hawks the lead. However, Hastings’ captain and goal scorer Turner managed to block on the line.
The Hawks again had a chance to win it after great play by Esnouf again, who found Josh Nandhra, but he was unable to keep his shot down.
With neither side managing to win in normal time, the game would be decided on penalties.
A marathon shootout ensued, which saw the sides go around twice, in which a total of 32 penalties were taken and 23 scored.
In an increasingly tense Culver Road, Charlie Fogden blasted his second penalty effort home while Touray failed to score the decisive spot-kick seeing his shot saved by Dailly, sealing the cup win for Whitehawk.
Speaking after the match, manager Del Tobias said: “Honestly after that shootout, I think I’m going to need a defibrillator! My heart is all over the place!
“First things first though, massive credit to Hastings - they went down to 10 and it seemed to galvanise them and affect us more.
“We started the game well, but the boys were just slightly off it today in key areas. Otherwise, I think we could have put it to bed by half-time.
“Then second-half we just didn’t get going, and again credit to Hastings because they were superb and forced us into that shootout.”
But of course, with penalties always something that might be on the cards, Tobias was never going to let his side go into the game unprepared: “Monday night at training I had all the lads practising penalties just in case.
“So I knew we had some solid penalty takers in the squad, but, as it turned out, the ones we’d been banking on missed and the others put theirs away.
“But massive credit to the lads, it is a special night for them and now it’s all about finishing the job in league!"
(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
Stats: (Hastings United-Whitehawk): Goals (1-1); Shots (7-9); Shots on target (2-2); Offsides (0-1); Corners (5-2); Fouls (9-16); Yellow Cards (4-2); Red Cards (1-0).
Hastings United: Holmwood, Thompson, Bredis, Martin, Walker, Baker, Chapman, Rocinskis, Corbin, Touray, Turner.
Subs: Rwabigwi, Ray, Hommadeh, Ridgers, Pegman.
Whitehawk: Daly, Williamson, Fogden, Donovan, Martin, Godfrey, Kingston, Nandhra, Reeder, Duckett, Esnouf.
Subs: Gilbert, O’Neil, Weber, Matthews, Appiah.