Hastings United dug in to claim a hard-earned 1-1 draw away to play-off chasing Canvey Island this afternoon (Saturday).
Both goals came within a minute of each other right at the end of the first half. Canvey took a deserved lead in the 45th minute through Harrison Chatting, but United replied almost instantly via Zac Attwood.
Both sides will feel they might have won it during the latter stages of a lively contest. United remain bottom of the Ryman Football League Premier Division table and are two points behind Wingate & Finchley, who occupy the final safe spot of third-from-bottom, with a game in hand. The U’s have three matches remaining.
Canvey bossed the first half on a gloriously sunny but breezy afternoon in south Essex and striker Bradley Woods-Garness will wonder how on earth he failed to get on the scoresheet.
He headed just wide from an Ashley Dumas cross in the game’s first chance after 10 minutes and then forced a great save out of away goalkeeper Daniel East at the end of a Canvey counter-attack. Richard Orlu headed over after outjumping East to a hanging cross.
Alassane N’Diaye sliced United’s first chance wide after Zac Attwood flicked on East’s goal kick, while at the other end, Ben Judge made an important block from Jay Curran’s angled effort following a ball over the top.
East parried Curran’s angled drive and Canvey had a second penalty appeal turned down from the rebound. Woods-Garness found the side-netting from the tightest of angles after rounding East, who then repelled an angled drive from the same player.
Woods-Garness blazed over from an inviting position inside the box and had a close range shot parried by East before Canvey finally broke through when Chatting drove into the box and buried a left-foot shot into the bottom corner despite East getting a hand to it.
United hit straight back, though, as Attwood latched onto Jono Richardson’s ball over the top and lifted over the outrushing goalkeeper. Freddie Warren had a shot blocked in the opening seconds of a far more even second period.
Judge had a looping effort nodded off the line and Elliott Cox shot just wide following a surging run into the box by Jack Dixon during United’s best spell of the match shortly after the hour.
Canvey had a couple of efforts deflected wide and Tommy Kavanagh saw a goalbound shot blocked by Warren as they got back on top for a while. Both sides had their moments in the closing 10 minutes or so with Richardson seeing a close range header blocked for United and Kavanagh firing over at the other end.
Of the other teams fighting relegation, Carshalton Athletic lost 2-0 at home to Wealdstone, Cray Wanderers won 2-0 at home to Hampton & Richmond Borough, Wingate & Finchley lost 2-0 at East Thurrock United, Lewes won 2-0 at Harrow Borough and Thurrock lost 1-0 away to Kingstonian.
United: East, Adams, Richardson, Vickers (Ellis 53), Ray, Judge (c), Warren, Cox (Camara 79), N’Diaye (Crellin 85), Attwood, Dixon. Subs not used: Murphy, Carey. Attendance: 402.
Ryman Premier bottom seven (played-points): Harrow Borough 39-41, Cray Wanderers 40-41, Lewes 40-39, Thurrock 40-38, Wingate & Finchley 40-38, Carshalton Athletic 41-37, HASTINGS UNITED 39-36.
TODAY’S OTHER RESULTS:
Sussex County League, Division 1: East Preston 3 SIDLEY UNITED 0; RYE UNITED 5 Chichester City 0.
Division 2: Broadbridge Heath 3 LITTLE COMMON 4; Steyning Town 0 BEXHILL UNITED 1; WESTFIELD 1 Southwick 0.