HASTINGS United remain deep in the Ryman Premier relegation mire after going down 2-0 away to Margate on Saturday.
The defeat leaves them in 19th position but only by virtue of goal difference because the three teams below them - Folkestone Invicta, Maidstone United and Croydon Athletic - have the same number of points.
The U’s enjoyed plenty of the ball but failed to make it count at a cold and windy Hartsdown Park.
Certainly on the balance of play, Jason Hopkinson should have been celebrating his first point since taking over as manager but a goal in each half from James Pinnock sealed the fate of the visitors.
Hastings made a bright start with Russell Eldridge’s low cross bouncing invitingly between a posse of onrushing forwards and the far post. Sam Adams and Harry Beautyman both went close before Sean Ray, playing as an emergency centre-forward, so nearly got away from his marker in the Margate box.
Margate gradually began to take control and on 27 minutes Hastings failed to deal with Wayne Wilson’s corner from the right and Pinnock applied the finishing touch.
Hastings rallied and Beautyman looked to have equalised but his well-struck shot from the angle of the box only just cleared the far upright with goalkeeper Jamie Turner pawing at thin air. Right on half time Ben Davisson found himself with a clear sight on goal but dragged his drive wide.
Neither side really settled in a drab second half and the number of genuine sights on goal could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Tim Olorunda had a couple of decent shots, while Adams failed to make the most of a cross from Davisson. At the other end of the pitch, Dan Stubbs forced Scott Chalmers-Stevens to save with his feet before Pinnock wrapped up the points with a thumping finish in the dying minutes.
Hastings: Chalmers-Stevens, Manning, Jirbandey, Millwood, Storrie, Adams (Taiwo 85), Olorunda, Beautyman (Sutton 63), Eldridge, Davisson, Ray. Subs not used: Logan, Parris.
Referee: P. Wright (London). Attendance: 298.
Hastings face another crucial league game tonight (Monday) when they visit Wealdstone.