Hastings United moved into the top four courtesy of a 3-2 win at home to Hythe Town tonight (Monday).
Although in the end it wasn’t as comfortable as it had looked like being earlier in the second half, goals from Frankie Sawyer, Kenny Pogue and Tom Vickers gave United a much-needed victory in Ryman Football League Division One South.
United manager Terry White made four changes to the starting line-up from the weekend draw against Merstham. Andy Henson, Ronnie Dolan, Bailo Camara and Kenny Pogue came in, and United began the match with a 3-5-2 formation.
After Sam Adams was narrowly off target at the end of a slick break involving Vickers and Pogue, Sawyer gave United an 11th minute lead with his third goal in two games. Sawyer’s first touch to control a Camara cross was perfect for him to turn and drive into the bottom corner with his second.
United doubled their advantage with a lovely goal on the counter-attack 20 minutes later. Sawyer collected a clearance out of defence and laid it off to Adams, who put Pogue clear on goal with a delightful ball and United’s leading scorer slotted past away goalkeeper Dan Eason.
Hythe pulled one back in the 35th minute. Pogue was penalised for bundling over Shaun Welford in the home box and away captain Dave Cook confidently buried the resulting penalty low to Josh Pelling’s right.
United restored their two-goal cushion less than three minutes into the second half. Pogue laid the ball off for Vickers to blast a right-foot piledriver into the top corner from just outside the box.
Dolan whistled a shot just wide of the top corner against his former club, Sawyer was denied by the feet of Eason from an inviting position inside the box and Pogue sent a low 20-yard drive just wide as United threatened to run away with it.
But that all changed when Hythe grabbed a second goal out of nowhere in the 64th minute. The unmarked Danny Lye scored with a powerful close range header from Taser Hassan’s right wing corner.
Hythe then sensed they could salvage something. Pelling made a smart tip over from Welford’s header and the visitors had the ball in the net from the resulting corner only for the referee to blow for a foul on the United goalkeeper. Hassan struck the far post with a right wing cross moments later.
United came through that awkward five-minute spell, though, and saw out the final 20 minutes fairly comfortably to complete their third ‘double’ of the season and make it seven points from a possible nine.
United: Pelling, Henson, Cruttwell, Jirbandey, Judge, Dolan (Ellis 77), Camara, Adams, Sawyer, Pogue (McCreadie 72), Vickers (Olorunda 82). Subs not used: O’Connor, Kelly. Attendance: 289.
Ryman Division One South top six (played-points): 1 Peacehaven & Telscombe 28-64, 2 Guernsey 32-59, 3 Leatherhead 28-58, 4 HASTINGS UNITED 28-56, 5 Folkestone Invicta 29-53, 6 Faversham Town 30-48.