Hastings United have been relegated from the Ryman Football League Premier Division.
The U’s cannot now escape the bottom two after losing 1-0 away to East Thurrock United tonight (Thursday) while fellow strugglers Wingate & Finchley won 3-2 at home to high-riding Lowestoft Town.
United’s relegation comes in the same season they reached the FA Cup third round - where they performed admirably against Championship big guns Middlesbrough - and reached the semi-finals of two knockout competitions.
The only goal of this evening’s game came in the 27th minute Kye Ruel latched onto a long throw from Ryan Sammons and flicked the ball over Sean Ray before volleying past Daniel East.
United came close to an immediate equaliser, but Alassane N’Diaye’s effort after Ray headed down a Danny Ellis corner was superbly deflected over. Zac Attwood was then narrowly off target from just outside the box.
Into the second half and East made a good save to keep out an attempted lob after Jono Richardson was dispossessed inside his own box. United had a narrow escape when a cross flashed across their goal, while Freddie Warren volleyed over at the other end with less than five minutes to go.
It will be scant consolation to them, but United could still finish off the bottom if they win their final game at home to Kingstonian on Saturday and Carshalton Athletic - who are 99 per cent certain to go down with them - lose away to Enfield Town.
The end of their six-year stay in the Ryman Premier means United will line-up alongside the likes of fellow Sussex sides Eastbourne Town, Crawley Down Gatwick, Worthing, Horsham and Burgess Hill Town next season.
United: East, Cox, Murphy, Warren, Ray, Richardson, Ellis, Crellin, Adams, N’Diaye, Attwood. Subs: Dixon, Okojie, Carey, Judge.
Ryman Premier bottom three (all played 41 matches): Lewes 40 (goal difference -15), Carshalton Athletic 37 (-22), HASTINGS UNITED 36 (-24).
TONIGHT’S OTHER RESULTS:
Sussex County League, Division 1: East Preston 1 RYE UNITED 4; Lingfield 2 SIDLEY UNITED 0.