Hastings United produced another poor performance as they suffered a second 2-0 defeat in the space of three days.
Two second half goals condemned United to a fourth loss in five Ryman Football League Division One South matches at home to a Chipstead side which lies three-quarters of the way down the table.
United manager Terry White made three changes from the team beaten at Walton & Hersham on Saturday with Tom Vickers playing on the right side of a three-man defence and Sam Adams only among the substitutes.
The first chance fell to United in the eighth minute when Kenny Pogue’s angled effort was parried and Matt Darby couldn’t quite bundle home the rebound. Although Pogue had a lovely lob ruled out for offside, the rest of the opening half-hour was pretty uneventful.
United did at least end the first half on the front foot. Chipstead defender Steve Betancourt made a vital tackle on Frankie Sawyer as he was about to bear down on goal, Sam Cruttwell curled a 25-yard free kick just over, Darby headed Tim Olorunda’s cross straight at the goalkeeper and Sawyer dragged a shot wide.
Yet again, though, United’s performance went downhill after the break on a chilly and breezy night at The Pilot Field. Home goalkeeper Josh Pelling made a good save low to his right from Stefan Joseph’s angled drive just after the hour.
Chipstead - who lost 2-1 at leaders Peacehaven & Telscombe on Saturday - opened the scoring midway through the second period when Will Turl glanced a near post header into the far corner after some good play down the away left.
United went close to a swift equaliser as Pogue headed Taser Hassan’s right wing corner against the top of the crossbar and Sawyer then missed a sitter, heading a fine cross by Adams over the top from two yards. Sawyer had another effort deflected wide and Josh Jirbandey’s header from the resulting corner rolled wide.
Pelling did well to thwart Joseph at the other end and Jirbandey cleared the follow-up from near the line, but Chipstead sealed their win with a second goal in the 84th minute. Joseph stepped inside Jirbandey and Pelling before teeing up Dan Moody to roll the ball home.
Trevor McCreadie saw a header from Jordan Woodley’s added time corner palmed away by the Chipstead goalkeeper and a few boos rang out at the end with United now just six points ahead of Burgess Hill Town in the final play-off spot.
United: Pelling, Vickers, Cruttwell, Olorunda (Woodley 85), Judge, Jirbandey, Hassan (McCreadie 85), Darby (Adams 69), Sawyer, Pogue, O’Connor. Subs not used: Ellis, Henson. Attendance: 306.
Ryman Division One South top six (played-points): 1 Peacehaven & Telscombe 33-77, 2 Leatherhead 34-70, 3 Guernsey 35-68, 4 Folkestone Invicta 33-60, 5 HASTINGS UNITED 33-59, 6 Burgess Hill Town 33-53.