The Panthers were looking to bounce back from their first ever competitive loss the previous week and produced a gritty, well-fought display in difficult conditions to progress.
It didn’t start well, however. The home side once again produced a slow and sluggish start, allowing Royal Holloway to control the opening minutes and it wasn’t long before they were punished.
With just five minutes on the clock, poor communication from Hastings allowed the unmarked Holloway striker to find the space to loop a free header over goalkeeper Jonathan Lowe and into the back of the net from 8 yards.
But this setback seemed to kick Hastings back into action.
On a pitch which didn’t allow for free-flowing football, it looked as though converting chances from set-pieces would play a big part in the match. And so it proved.
A long-range free-kick from Hastings midfielder Sam Mitchell caused havoc in the Royal Holloway area and after a goal-mouth scramble, the ball was eventually forced home by Dan King, who reacted quickest after Arnold Xhikola’s cross-come-shot bounced back off the post.
The home side were now in the ascendency and took the lead through another set piece moments later.
Midfielder Ross Ellis floated a corner perfectly to the back post, where centre back Oli Birch capitalised on Holloway’s poor marking to power an unstoppable header into the corner of the net.
Royal Holloway fought back well however, and moments before half time they equalised. Lax defending once again from Hastings allowed the Holloway winger to whip a ball across the six
yard, and after failing to clear their lines, the away side’s striker was on hand to tap in an undeserved equaliser.
As the second half began, Hastings looked a different side. The defensive line of King, Birch, Ben Davy and George Fuller was more organised and solid, keeping the Holloway strikers at bay.
The midfield were moving the ball quicker and pressing the away side into mistakes, creating opportunities for Ricci Ovvio Bica up front.
And midway through the second period, Hastings efforts were rewarded.
A customary surging run through the Holloway defence from captain Tom Howard resulted in him being cynically bundled over in the penalty area, leaving the referee with little alternative but to award the spot kick.
And King duly stepped up to restore Hastings’ lead, lashing the penalty in the top left-hand corner despite the best efforts of the Holloway goalkeeper.
This time, however, the away side had no response as Hastings defended from the front, thwarting every attempted attack from the away side.
Matt Milne came off the bench to replace Xhikola as Hastings went in search of a 4th goal.
His pace immediately caused problems for the Holloway defence and not long after, it helped seal the victory. Quick passing on the left hand side between Milne and King, allowed Milne to find Ovvio Bica, who struck a low, dipping shot past the Holloway goalkeeper for his fourth goal of the season.
Holding midfielder Dan Holley came on to replace the ever-industrious Panny Artemiou for the final few minutes to add steel to the midfield as Hastings looked to protect their lead.
And apart from a comical moment towards the end of game which saw Fuller crawling on the floor, attempting to head the ball back to keeper Lowe, and a Royal Holloway player receiving a yellow card for dissent, the final few minutes went by relatively free of incident.
Hastings will now face St George’s at home in the last 16 on November 26th.