HASTINGS United finally got back to winning ways in the league with a 3-2 defeat of Tooting & Mitcham United.
Victory was long overdue for The U’s because the last time they had picked up three points was way back on October 2, last year, when Harrow Borough were seen off 2-0.
Since then Hastings had managed six draws (including two in their previous two games) and 12 defeats to tumble down the Ryman Premier table.
Despite leading 2-0 and 3-1, Hastings so nearly threw it away in the closing stages at The Pilot Field as the visitors, who played two thirds of the match with only 10 men, so nearly snatched a late, late equaliser. Ultimately, they saw out the match much to everyone’s relief at The Pilot Field.
Hastings made only one change to the team that performed so well in the 1-1 draw at high-flying Lowestoft Town last Saturday with Ross Sutton replacing Ryan Storrie at left back.
The home side were two-up by half time thanks to a couple of coolly-taken Sam Adams penalties. Both were conceded by central defender Osa Obamwonyi who was booked for bringing down George Porter and then again for a needless handball at a Russell Eldridge corner.
The 10-man Terrors reorganised and hauled themselves back into the contest five minutes into the second half courtesy of Jamie Byatt’s thumping finish after Tyrone Sealey had left three Hastings defenders for dead down the right wing.
Sean Ray wasted a great chance to restore the two-goal cushion before the excellent Porter did just that with a lovely finish after racing onto a raking pass from the right back position.
Tooting were quite literally handed another route back into the game just before the hour mark when Sutton was penalised for use of the arm, but goalkeeper Scott Chalmers-Stevens, who had a good game between the posts, pulled off a fine stop to deny Karl Beckford from 12 yards.
Hastings had chances to kill off the game once and for all but Harry Beautyman half volleyed over, Ollie Rowe was denied by a last gasp clearance, Lewis Perkins over-egged his attempted chip, Adams was thwarted by a combination of keeper and defender, and Ashley Robinson was frustrated by more timely covering.
In fact rather than just see out the game, Hastings were still looking for a fourth as the match approached the 89th minute when they were caught out for Tooting’s second on the counter-attack. The goal was harsh on Chalmers-Stevens who had made a good block from the initial effort only for the ball to run loose for Karl Beckford to fire home.
The nerves were now jangling and Sol Pinnock went on a mazy run into the Hastings box but he sliced his shot wide of the far post and Hastings were able to celebrate that long awaited win.
Hastings (4-4-2): Chalmers-Stevens; Rowe, Ray, Jirbandey, Sutton (Perkins 60), Adams, Olorunda, Beautyman, Eldridge; Davisson (Robinson 73), Porter. Subs not used: Manning, Hall, Storrie.
Referee: Andy Mead (Orpington). Attendance: 403.