Missed chances were to blame as Hastings United lost 1-0 away to Tooting & Mitcham United this afternoon (Saturday).
The U’s squandered a host of opportunities and Tooting converted one of the few openings they carved out to pinch three unlikely Ryman Football League Division One South points.
United made a bright start in the sunshine at the scene of their play-off final victory in 2007, with Sam Adams firing over early on from Trevor McCreadie’s pass and then sending a free kick just wide. Frankie Sawyer cleared the crossbar when clean through against his former club.
Home goalkeeper Paul Smith used his feet to repel McCreadie’s shot on the turn from a Bailo Camara cross. McCreadie was whiskers away from getting on the end of an Adams delivery from the left.
Smith made a fine save to keep out Josh Jirbandey’s close range header from an Adams free kick before thwarting Camara with the final act of a first half where United had nothing to show for their dominance of possession and territory.
After Tooting enjoyed a decent spell at the start of the second period, Sawyer again shot too high having been put through by Adams. Camara twice did the same thing, firstly from Sawyer’s cross and then after being released by McCreadie.
Mid-table Tooting, whose 35 league games so far this season have produced 125 goals, grabbed what turned out to be the winner with a goal out of nothing when substitute Ryan Palmer slid in to convert a low cross.
Although United’s second half performance didn’t match their display during the opening period, Tooting still needed an excellent stop from Smith to deny Sawyer from a one-on-one situation.
United goalkeeper Josh Pelling made two good saves in quick succession at the other end. U’s substitute Josh Oyinsan had a chance to equalise, but failed to find McCreadie after rounding Smith, while right at the end, Adams blazed over at the end of a good run.
United: Pelling, Henson (Oyinsan), Cruttwell, Darby, Judge, Jirbandey, Camara (Ellis), Adams, Sawyer, McCreadie (Woodley), Vickers. Subs not used: O’Connor, Gilbert.
Ryman Division One South top six (played-points): 1 Peacehaven & Telscombe 31-71, 2 Leatherhead 32-67, 3 Guernsey 34-65, 4 HASTINGS UNITED 31-59, 5 Folkestone Invicta 31-57, 6 Faversham Town 33-52.