There’s an election on. The local foodbank reported that last month it distributed over 10,000 crisis meal kits. In a town of 90,000 people. The numbers referred to it are going up. The pier’s been sold to a divisive character, the roads are full of holes, the trains are going nowhere, and the town keeps losing shops and business. And so we turn our lonely eyes to football and, thank god, Hastings are top of the table.
That table is the Isthmian League South East Division and only one team goes up automatically. Last season, over a thousand people, me included, saw Hastings lose to Ashford in the play off semi final. Turns out we needn’t have bothered – neither team could actually be promoted. History can’t repeat as that glitch has apparently been fixed. So Hastings are in the automatic spot just over a third of the way into the season and 600 were at the Pilot Field today to watch them ease past Chichester City.
Chichester City were the beneficiaries of Bury’s demise, obtaining a bye to the FA Cup second round as a result where, last week, they went down to Tranmere. They played today like they were a bit hungover. Hastings’ possession football can be both a bit dull for spectators at times and very wearing for their opponents. They’re getting better at it too, not least because when you have Davide Rodari at the front there’s a chance that a couple of quick passes can turn into a goal.
It was 4-0 at half time and I’m not entirely sure that Chichester even had a half a shot. Hastings had plenty. Rodari got two, Sam Adams one, and my favourite was a run into the box resulting in a shot that went in off the woodwork from Ajakaiye.
Second halves when the match is over are often a bit of an anti climax and so it was today. The mood of many not helped by the power cut that took out both the burger bar and the lights in the loos. “I’ve had to wee in the dark, that’s not fun”, I had heard one woman say, whilst a group of teenagers looked bereft that cheesy chips would have to wait for another day. The personal impact on me was that I couldn’t get a half time Bovril. I suspect the personal impact on Chichester was that they had a cup thrown at them.
Because they were a bit better. And were rewarded with a goal from a smart move … which was almost immediately cancelled out by a Hastings converting a stonewall penalty. No VAR down here, obviously, but it looked pretty clear from any angle. And so, at 5-1, ten minutes into the second half, the scoring and almost anything of value in the game was done.
Chichester will have better days. They have a fair few games ot make up and it looks like respectable mid table awaits. Hastings are three points clear at the top with a game in hand over the second placed side. The season is long and, in this most marginal of seats, no one claims anything before all the counting is done.