Hastings United made it three wins out of three with a 2-1 victory at home to Redhill this afternoon (Saturday).
It certainly wasn’t a convincing performance from the U’s, but they did just enough to continue their perfect start to the Ryman Football League Division One South season.
Caretaker managers Mark Stapley and Terry White named the same starting line-up as that which beat Walton Casuals on Monday, and United drew first blood on nine minutes. Jamie Crone scored his first goal for the club with a low strike after Matt Maclean’s header from a Sam Adams cross had been blocked.
Last season’s Sussex County League runners-up Redhill certainly had their fair share of the play for the remainder of the first half, albeit without really threatening Josh Pelling in the home goal.
United came close to a second in the 41st minute when Maclean’s close range header from an Adams cross was blocked by the goalkeeper’s legs and they got the second two minutes later courtesy of a delightful 25-yard free kick from Adams into the top corner.
Although Pelling was forced into a good save going to his left from a decent strike by Sam Robinson, United looked fairly comfortable on the whole during the opening stages of the second period.
But Redhill, who picked up four points from their opening two games, pulled one back out of nothing on the hour. Gus Sousa played in Niall Egan, who rolled the ball past Pelling.
It was the first goal United have conceded all season and things became edgy thereafter. Josh Bonnett had a goalbound shot blocked by Ben Judge and United survived a nervy moment when Redhill overplayed in the box and failed to get a shot away.
Kenny Pogue spurned a glorious chance to wrap things up in the second minute of added time as Redhill goalkeeper Andy Greaves got a hand to his attempted chip having been put through by new signing Tom O’Connor, who made his debut as a second half substitute.
United (4-2-3-1): Pelling; Gilbert, Judge, Kelly, Henson; Olorunda, Darby; Adams, Maclean (O’Connor 75), Crone (Camara 75); Pogue. Subs not used: Shonk, Woodley, Burbridge. Attendance: 360.
Standings (all played three matches): 1 Crawley Down Gatwick 9pts, 2 HASTINGS UNITED 9, 3 Hythe Town 7, 4 Leatherhead 7, 5 Ramsgate 6, 6 Walton Casuals 6, 7 Horsham 6, 8 Burgess Hill Town 6, 9 Peacehaven & Telscombe 5, 10 Redhill 4, 11 Walton & Hersham 4, 12 Whitstable Town 4, 13 Corinthian Casuals 4, 14 Folkestone Invicta 3, 15 Chipstead 3, 16 Merstham 3, 17 Faversham Town 3, 18 Three Bridges 3, 19 Guernsey 3, 20 Herne Bay 2, 21 Tooting & Mitcham United 2, 22 Eastbourne Town 1, 23 Worthing 1, 24 Sittingbourne 0.