Trevor McCreadie bagged a hat-trick as Hastings United chalked up a much-needed 4-0 win at home to 10-man Worthing this afternoon (Saturday).
The young forward became the first United player to net a treble at The Pilot Field this season in United’s biggest Ryman Football League Division One South home victory of the campaign.
Although United’s performance wasn’t as impressive as the scoreline might suggest, they were more clinical in front of goal than they have been at times of late and a only a second clean sheet in 15 matches would also have been a source of satisfaction.
There was precious little to report during a scrappy opening half-hour, but when you’re struggling for form - and United have been recently - sometimes you need a break to go your way and the hosts got one in the 34th minute.
Frankie Sawyer’s instinctive effort rolled against the post and the follow-up by Tom Vickers was adjudged to have been handled on the goal-line by Mark Knee. Worthing’s captain was duly sent-off and Sam Adams sent goalkeeper Jimmy Punter the wrong way with the resulting penalty.
United goalkeeper Josh Pelling made a smothering save at the feet of Lloyd Dawes before the home side doubled its lead in the 41st minute. McCreadie controlled Vickers’ deflected cross with his first touch and buried a low left-foot shot from eight yards with his second.
Pelling repelled Omar Bugiel’s shot at one end and Adams flashed a long range effort just over at the other in the closing stages of the first half on a glorious spring afternoon at The Pilot Field.
With a man advantage and a two-goal cushion, United might have hoped to turn on the style in the second half. But they were pretty slow to get going after the restart and Worthing had a penalty appeal waved away when Bugiel went to ground under the challenge of Sam Cruttwell.
A couple more injuries to Sawyer and Tim Olorunda were the last thing United needed, yet they increased their advantage with a well-worked third goal in the 67th minute. Tristan Toney delivered a cross from the left which fellow substitute Kenny Pogue headed across goal for McCreadie to nod home.
Adams wasn’t far away with an effort from distance and McCreadie’s angled drive went just wide of the far post before United rounded-off the scoring in the 76th minute. Pogue’s shot was parried by Punter and McCreadie tapped home the rebound to complete his hat-trick.
McCreadie had a couple of chances to add to his tally late on only to be denied by Punter having been put through by Matt Darby and Pogue. Will Berry could have nabbed an added time consolation for the visitors - who included former United captain Lee Carey - but blazed over following a corner.
United: Pelling, Adams, Cruttwell, Olorunda (Bachellier 61), Judge, Darby, Hassan, O’Connor, Sawyer (Pogue 57), McCreadie, Vickers (Toney 51). Subs not used: Oyinsan, Nessling. Attendance: 370.
Ryman Division One South top six (played-points): 1 Peacehaven & Telscombe 39-92, 2 Leatherhead 40-82, 3 Guernsey 38-71, 4 Folkestone Invicta 38-70, 5 HASTINGS UNITED 38-69, 6 Merstham 39-67.