Hastings United slumped to the foot of the table after losing 4-1 in a key game at home to Carshalton Athletic tonight (Thursday).
Carshalton move into the final Ryman Football League Premier Division safe spot of third-from-bottom, although they are only two points ahead of United having played two more games. In fact, United are just three points behind 17th-placed Thurrock, but this result will be extremely damaging to their survival hopes.
United got off to the worst possible start by falling behind inside three minutes. Luke Pigden picked up a loose ball inside the home penalty box and struck a low shot into the far corner.
The U’s responded well, though, and got back on level terms eight minutes later. Carshalton could only clear as far as Jack Dixon and the midfielder took one touch to control before unleashing a cracking left-foot shot into the bottom corner from a good 25 yards.
United probably had more of the chances during the remainder of a very open and lively first half, although Carshalton - wearing a Fiorentina-style all purple strip - looked dangerous too, particularly at set-pieces and on the counter-attack.
Away goalkeeper Nick Hamann made a great save low to his right to keep out Lee Carey’s free kick from right on the edge of the box and later did well to stop Sean Ray’s header from another Carey free kick. Rory Murphy flashed a dangerous ball across the face of Carshalton’s goal which only needed a touch.
Carshalton grabbed the match by the scruff of the neck with two goals in as many second half minutes. They retook the lead in the 55th minute when James Ashton rounded-off a three on two counter-attack from a ball across goal by Pelayo Gomez Pico.
Ola Sagbanmu headed the visitors’ third from a right wing corner moments later and United never really looked like finding a way back into the game thereafter. Their only real chance fell to Alassane N’Diaye, whose close range effort from a lofted ball into the box by Sam Adams was smothered by Hamann.
United’s fate was sealed by a fourth Carshalton goal in the 82nd minute. Ray brought down Tommy Bradford inside the box with a sliding challenge and Pinny sent Daniel East the wrong way with the resulting penalty.
After back-to-back wins over Kingstonian and Harrow Borough last week, this was United’s third defeat in six days and their next three games are all away to sides in the top nine, starting against Canvey Island on Saturday.
United: East, Cox, Murphy, Carey, Ray, Richardson, Ellis, Crellin (Attwood 65), Adams, N’Diaye (Okojie 88), Dixon. Subs not used: Judge, Vickers, Warren. Attendance: 480.
Ryman Premier bottom six (played-points): Thurrock 39-38 (goal difference -18), Wingate & Finchley 39-38 (-25), Cray Wanderers 39-38 (-27), Carshalton Athletic 40-37 (-20), Lewes 39-36 (-17), HASTINGS UNITED 38-35 (-22).
TONIGHT’S OTHER RESULTS:
Sussex County League, Division 1: RYE UNITED 0 East Preston 0; SIDLEY UNITED 2 Shoreham 1.