Ray uses his head in Hastings win

Player-boss Sean Ray headed the winner against Wingate & Finchley
Player-boss Sean Ray headed the winner against Wingate & Finchley

HASTINGS United celebrated their first win of the season with a 2-1 success at home to Wingate & Finchley.

The U’s, who had picked up one point from their first two matches in the Ryman Premier, took a while to get going in the wind and rain at The Pilot Field.

The visitors came close to opening the scoring after only five minutes when a Sam Berry header hit the top of the crossbar.

Hastings finally began to find their feet and took the lead midway through the first half courtesy of a close range header from Zac Attwood after player-manager Sean Ray had met a Lee Carey free kick.

Wingate so nearly got back on level terms when John Kyriacou’s hanging cross almost found the back of the net after appearing to deceive keeper Matt Armstrong-Ford.

Moments later, Bradley Goldberg saw a deflected shot well saved by Bobby Smith just when it looked as though the ball had arched beyond him.

Armstrong-Ford pulled off a decent parry to keep out a John Docker drive but he had no chance with Wingate’s equaliser five minutes before half time.

Time seemed to stand still as a pack of defenders looked on while Leon Smith was allowed to turn and shoot from a Lewis Jones corner.

Hastings regained the lead 10 minutes into the second half when a Carey corner found Ray whose header kicked off the sodden turf and bounced past a batch of players on the goal-line.

Goldberg was desperately unlucky not claim a third but his shot-on-the-turn smacked against the base of the far post with the keeper well beaten. Carey then let fly from the edge of the box but this time Bobby Smith did well to beat the effort clear.

Ray almost claimed his second goal of the afternoon with another header from a Carey corner, while at the other end David Laird fired past the near upright and Marc Weatherstone sidefooted over at the back post for a Wingate side still seeking their first point of the campaign.

Hastings (4-3-3): Armstrong-Ford; Cox, Ray, Jirbandey, Whitehead; Carey, Crellin, Ellis; Okojie (Camara 66), Goldberg (Vickers 73), Attwood. Subs not used: Manning, Richardson, Dixon.

Wingate: B. Smith, Weatherstone, Wright, Jones, Street, Nielsen (Kalifa 88), Kyriacou, Berry, L. Smith, Laird (Morris 78), Docker (Pinto 74). Subs not used: Shehu, Fowler.