A late goal from Kenny Pogue gave Hastings United their first victory of the new year tonight (Monday).
United’s leading scorer struck in the 87th minute to seal a 1-0 win at home to Herne Bay as United made a triumphant start to the second half of their Ryman Football League Division One South programme.
The first three-quarters of the match were fairly even, but United got on top during the closing 25 minutes or so and for this reason were worthy of a win which moved them level on points with second-placed Leatherhead.
There was little in the way of clearcut chances during the first half on another pristine Pilot Field playing surface. Stuart King shot just wide of the near post for Herne Bay and team-mate Dean Grant headed against an upright only to see the flag go up in any case.
United striker Trevor McCreadie was carried off following a firm but fair challenge and later left the ground in an ambulance. His replacement Matt Darby sent a cross from the right onto the top of the crossbar.
Home goalkeeper Josh Pelling dealt with long range efforts from King and Joe Nelder before United enjoyed a decent five-minute spell in which Sam Adams drove wide from just outside the box, Tom Vickers surged into the area and fired narrowly off target, and Sam Cruttwell drove just too high from range.
Joe Kennett headed just wide of the near post for the visitors from Danny Walder’s left wing corner before the first half ended with a terrific 30-yard free kick from Adams striking the outside of the stanchion.
The first real opening of the second period fell to United when Vickers picked out Ronnie Dolan with a fine cross from the left, but the substitute’s shot was well blocked. King then had a shot beaten out by Pelling at the other end.
United started to turn the screw as the contest wore on. Herne Bay goalkeeper Jack Delo pulled off a brilliant save low to his left to keep out an angled drive by Vickers, Pogue had a goalbound header blocked and Tim Olorunda drilled a shot from distance just over.
Delo made another fine stop low to his left from Pogue’s left-foot shot, but the away stopper was finally beaten when Pogue took one touch to control Darby’s right wing cross before lashing home emphatically on the volley with his second.
United: Pelling, Gilbert, Cruttwell, Olorunda, Judge, Kelly, Ellis (Dolan 53), Adams, McCreadie (Darby 16), Pogue, Vickers. Subs not used: Shelton, Corrigan. Attendance: 323.
Ryman Division One South top nine (played-points): 1 Peacehaven & Telscombe 26-60, 2 Leatherhead 25-49, 3 HASTINGS UNITED 24-49, 4 Guernsey 27-46, 5 Walton Casuals 26-45, 6 Folkestone Invicta 26-44, 7 Faversham Town 26-42, 8 Ramsgate 27-41, 9 Burgess Hill Town 23-38.