Hastings a cut above in John Davey Cup
Hastings United triumphed over a determined Withdean Youth to win the Sussex John Davey Cup (Under-16s) 3-1 at Culver Road yesterday afternoon.
Withdean started out strong and both sides played with a high back-line and plenty of intensity in their pressing game.
John Sutton's side created the first chance of the game when skipper Raff Beacham dribbled to the byline before playing a low cross into the box that was gathered by Harry Howes in the Hastings goal.
Hastings grew into the game midway through the first-half and commanded proceedings there afterwards. Minkah Okojie came close to giving Emlyn McCann's side the lead with a long-range effort that was kept out by Albie Sherlock between the sticks for Withdean at full stretch.
The game changed for Hastings when they brought on Arsham Mavali, who brought a directness into the tie, and he immediately went on a mazy run down the middle of the Withdean back-line before feeding the ball to Jamie Wilder but the latter's effort was just inches over the target.
Wilder redeemed himself moments later and gave Hastings the lead after lashing the ball past Sherlock in the 33rd minute, following some more good work from Mavali and went into the break with a slender lead.
McCann's side came out firing on all cylinders in the second-half and doubled their lead two minutes after the restart. Wilder raced down the right flank before turning provider for Mavali, who slotted the ball past Sherlock with relative ease.
The substitute was at it again instantaneously when he won possession inside the Withdean six-yard-box before poking the ball through Sherlock's legs and seeing it trickle over the line to give Hastings what seemed like an unassailable 3-0 lead.
Withdean tried to mount a challenge but Sutton's boys were just not able to find the cutting edge in the final third, despite all their good build-up play and neat passing.
Hastings almost added a fourth goal when substitute Sebastian Kane pounced on a loose defensive pass before racing into the Withdean penalty area. Unfortunately, his shot crashed against the woodwork.
Withdean managed to pull one goal back when Howes failed to collect a cross in his own penalty area cleanly, allowing Rudi Robertson to roll the ball into an open net from close range. Sadly for Sutton and his charges, it was too little too late as Hastings held on to take the win.
After the game, we caught up with McCann to get his thoughts on the win. He said:“A brilliant performance from the lads. Fully deserved in my opinion.
“We stuck to the game plan brilliantly. The lads have trained really well for the last few weeks building up to this game and I know it’s a cliche but, everything went to plan today so I am really pleased with that.”
When asked what he told his team during half-time that resulted in their impressive second-half, McCann said: “We recognised their weaknesses and their strengths and what we needed to lock up and to maintain that winning edge.
“Just keep the fight to win the 1v1s and be first to the ball. I couldn’t have asked for more from them today and what I asked from them, they really delivered out there.
“We’re going to get the coach back together now and it’s an hour and a half on the road. I can imagine it being a very lively trip back, but they deserve it, and I couldn’t be happier for them!”
(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-Withdean Youth): Goals (3-1); Shots (16-7); On Target (5-5); Corners (2-1), Fouls (14-3); Offsides (4-2); Yellow Cards (0-1), Red Cards (0-0).
Hastings United: Howes; Field, Scarles, Ritchie; Clifford, Fuller, Brown, Baker; Wilder, Okojie, Anongu.
Subs: Lacey, Kane, Mavali, James, Lambden.
Withdean Youth: Sherlock; Boakes, Gilbert, Robertson; Sutton, Beacham, Monti, Lee, Jermy, Bovington, Cranston.
Subs: Paling, Gourley, Russell, Winter.