Middlesbrough 4-1 Hastings United
The FA Cup with Budweiser
Third Round Proper
3.00pm, Saturday 5 January 2013
The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough FC
Winning clubs receive £67,500 from The FA's prize fund
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By Gary Stonehouse
Middlesbrough secured their place in tomorrow’s Fourth Round draw with a comfortable victory, but two moments of Cup magic will live long in the memory for Hastings.
As the neutrals watched on in the hope of an upset, the Teessiders proved to be party-poopers as they dominated throughout against the spirited Istmian League Premier Division side.
They controlled possession from the off, but only had long range efforts from Luke Williams and Ishmael Miller to show for their domination inside the opening ten minutes.
As is so often the case in The FA Cup, an unlikely hero seemed to be emerging as Hastings goalkeeper Liam O’Brien looked to be diving his way into the spotlight.
After being bundled over in the box, Middlesbrough’s Miller dusted himself off to casually stroke the ball from the spot to the goalkeeper's right, but O’Brien read it perfect to save the strike and safely collect the rebound before the onrushing striker could make amends, sending the travelling fans behind the goal into delirium.
As they started to believe a shock could be on the cards, the visitors were soon brought back down to earth as they fell behind just seven minutes later. Moroccan midfielder Merouane Zemmama picked the ball up 30-yards from goal, and after being given the freedom of the pitch to pick his spot, he curled an exquisite strike up and over O’Brien into the top left corner.
Hastings finally started to show some belief as they began to press, and they duly won their first corner 35 minutes in. They were almost caught out though, as ‘Boro right back Stuart Parnaby sent a long clearance up down the pitch which released Miller to run on goal. The striker raced into the area, but a delay in shooting allowed Sean Ray to get back and make a fantastic last-ditch tackle to save his team.
The non-Leaguers continued to push forward and came close to snatching an equaliser through Middlesbrough’s Andy Halliday, whose attempt to block a cross had diverted the ball towards the top corner but Jason Steele managed to tip the ball wide.
They did manage to get the ball in the net as Bradley Goldberg latched onto a ball over the top, jinked past Steele and turned the ball over the line, but an offside flag soon halted any celebrations.
After waiting 22 minutes for a goal in the first-half, it was little over one before the net was bulging in the second as the Championship side doubled their lead. Williams whipped a corner in from the left which somehow bobbled through a sea of bodies at the near post before finding Halliday unmarked six yards out and he made no mistake.
Two minutes later, Halliday almost had his second as the left-back again found himself in the opposition box, but this time his strike was saved by the knees of O’Brien.
Hastings refused to roll over though, and they would have been right back in the game but for the fingertips of Steele. Captain Lee Carey thundered a strike from fully 30-yards which looked to be destined for the net, but Steele somehow got down low to his right to tip the ball onto the post before seeing it go out to safety.
After his fine strike to open the scoring, Zemmama tried his luck again from long range just after the hour mark, but O’Brien was equal to it and saved to his right. He was helpless five minutes later though as Zemmama powered a 20 yard strike goalwards, which struck a defender to wrongfoot O’Brien, who could only watch as it rustled in the right hand side of his net.
Three goals behind and with little over twenty minutes left Hastings could’ve been forgiven for throwing in the towel, but just as O’Brien had earlier, they were determined to have one more moment of Cup magic, and how magical it was for striker Goldberg as he scored an unforgettable goal that will live long in the memory.
The Hastings forward received the ball on the left and surged forward towards goal, evading several defenders before cutting inside and unleashing an unstoppable strike straight into the top left corner to spark wild celebrations from the visiting fans.
As the vocal 1068-strong away support began to urge their team forward, it looked as if their team had a new found belief, but any dreams of a remarkable comeback were quickly extinguished as Miller finally found a way past O’Brien with a cool left foot finish on 85 minutes.
Despite the scoreline and the long periods of home pressure, Hastings did themselves proud, and will no doubt be looking forward to embarking on a similar Cup run next year.
Middlesbrough: 1 Jason Steele, 5 Merouane Zemmama (29 Bryn Morris), 8 Kevin Thomson, 10 Nicky Bailey, 14 Rhys Williams ©, 18 Andy Halliday, 21 Stuart Parnaby (38 Faris Haroun), 22 Luke Williams (26 Jordan Jones), 25 Adam Reach, 30 Ishmael Miller, 33 Richard Smallwood
Subs not used: 32 Jayson Leutwiler, 17 Lukas Jutkiewicz, 27 Scott McDonald, 35 Christian Burgess
Hastings: 1 Liam O’Brien, 2 Elliot Cox (16 Scott Manning), 3 Matt Whitehead, 4 Lee Carey ©, 5 Sean Ray, 6 Josh Jirbandey, 8 Jack Dixon (14 Dee Okojie), 9 Bailo Camara, 11 Bradley Goldberg, 18 Jamie Crelin, 23 Tom Vickers (7 Danny Ellis)
Subs: 32 George Howard, 17 Ian Daly, 24 Jono Richardson, 30 Gary Abbott
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 12, 579
Middlesbrough 4-1 Hastings United