A GOAL 15 minutes from time condemned Hastings United to a 1-0 defeat at home to play-off hopefuls Bury Town.
The lone strike from substitute Billy Clark ensured Bury completed a hat-trick of wins over the U’s this season following a 5-0 success on their own patch in the reverse league fixture way back in August and a 2-0 victory at The Pilot Field in the Ryman League Cup in January.
This Ryman Premier contest had 0-0 written all over it until Hastings gave the ball away in a dangerous area although there were complaints that the home side should have been awarded a free kick for a foul in the build-up.
Play was allowed to continue and Connor Hall’s low ball from the left was turned in from five yards by the unmarked Clark.
The goal was a real kick in the teeth for a Hastings side which had done well to contain the second highest scorers in the Ryman Premier.
The defence - once again well marshalled by Josh Jirbandey and Scott Manning - had restricted the visitors to only a few efforts on goal up until the Clark strike.
It was a similar story at the other end of the pitch, although Hastings came closest to opening the scoring in the first half when Zac Attwood’s 20-yarder was only kept out by a flying save from Marcus Granham.
Either side of the goal, John Sands might have done better with a couple of efforts with the second in stoppage time forcing a good save out of Matt Armstrong-Ford, while Hastings substitute Joe Barham hit the outside the upright from a tight angle.
Hastings: Armstrong-Ford, Dixon, Whitehead (Barham 71), Carey, Manning, Jirbandey, Ellis, Crellin, Goldberg, Attwood, Camara (Sutton 57). Sub not used: Gonsalves.
Referee: Darren Blunden (Dartford). Attendance: 421.
Ryman Premier standings (played-points): Billericay Town 36-76, AFC Hornchurch 35-69, Lowestoft Town 34-66, Bury Town 35-63, Cray Wanderers 33-58, Hendon 35-57, Lewes 36-57, Kingstonian 35-55, Metropolitan Police 34-54, Concord Rangers 35-53, Canvey Island 35-53, Wealdstone 32-52, East Thurrock Utd 33-47, Margate 34-46, Wingate & Finchley 35-43, Carshalton Athletic 35-41, HASTINGS UTD 35-40, Harrow Borough 35-37, Leatherhead 35-31, Tooting & Mitcham Utd 35-26, Aveley 36-25, Horsham 36-15.
A full match report will appear in Friday’s Observer Sport.