HASTINGS United have inched six points clear of the Ryman Premier relegation zone after securing a very welcome 2-2 draw away to play-off candidates Canvey Island.
It might have been even better, however, because Hastings had been two goals to the good at half time thanks to a Sam Adams penalty - given for a foul on George Porter - and Harry Beautyman’s long range strike which somehow squirmed beyond the goalkeeper.
Canvey were given a foothold in the match on the hour mark when goalie Seb Barton completely misjudged Matt Game’s shot from eight yards.
Barton was also culpable for the equaliser in the 86th minute when an Alex Rhodes delivery from the right found its way into the back of the net with Danny Heale, who was fortunate to still be on the pitch following a clash with Tim Olorunda, claiming the final touch. After the match Rhodes was adamant his centre had gone straight in.
Although Hastings had been under the cosh for much of the contest, they still had three excellent chances to nick it late on. All three fell to Beautyman but each time he failed to hit the target, firing past the far post at the end of a swift counter-attack, heading wide from six yards and then shooting over after doing brilliantly to dummy a defender out of the game.
Canvey were twice denied by the woodwork during the course of a very entertaining match. Rhodes was the unlucky player on both occasions, and although Jason Hallett followed up to tuck home the rebound the first time the post was struck, his effort was ruled offside.
Canvey actually struck the frame of the goal on three occasions, albeit once at the wrong end when Michael Alaile’s header hit the top of his own crossbar.
Hastings (4-1-4-1): Barton; Rowe, Ray, Jirbandey, Manning; Olorunda; Adams (Pogue 80), Beautyman, Carey, Billings (Eldridge 63); Porter. Subs not used: Sutton, Hopkinson, Storrie.
Referee: Michael Webb (Woking). Attendance: 501.
Only one team in the bottom six of the Ryman Premier tasted defeat on Saturday. Having said that, only one team actually won.
Maidstone United, who had looked dead and buried only a couple of weeks ago, triumphed 4-3 away to Tooting & Mitcham United, while there were draws for Aveley at home to leaders leaders Sutton United, Folkestone Invicta at home to Billericay Town, Horsham at home to AFC Hornchurch, and, of course, Hastings United at Canvey Island. Croydon Athletic went down 1-0 at Bury Town.
Ryman Premier standings (bottom six - played-points): Horsham 37-35, HASTINGS UTD 37-34, Aveley 36-28, Maidstone Utd 37-28, Croydon Athletic 37-28, Folkestone Invicta 36-27.