Hastings United's footballers were beaten for the second time in three games as they lost 2-1 at home to Ramsgate tonight (Tuesday).
United produced a poor display and although Harry Stannard briefly brought them level in the second half, there was little to warm the spectators' hearts on a freezing night at The Pilot Field.
Loan signings Bradley Stevenson and Jack Evans went straight into United's midfield, and Steve Watt came in alongside Ollie Rowe at centre-half.
The first half was fairly even. Ramsgate forward Aaron Millbank had the first attempt of note when he shot just wide from inside the box before Evans half-volleyed straight at Ramsgate goalkeeper Luke Watkins.
United had a decent chance to strike first when Matt Bodkin controlled a great ball over the top from Watt on his chest as he burst into the right-hand side of the box, but his shot was parried by Watkins.
Sam Lawton had the ball in the net for Ramsgate only to be denied by the offside flag, but seconds later the visitors did get one to count in the 38th minute.
The sliding Watt couldn't stretch far enough to cut out a low cross from the Ramsgate right and Millbank had time to turn inside the box before lashing into the roof of the net.
Ramsgate came close to adding to their tally before the break. Tom Chapman's 25-yard drive was tipped over by United goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley and Luke Wheatley's header from the resulting corner was cleared off the line by Adam Green.
Joe Kane had a goalbound effort blocked from a Ramsgate corner early in the second half and United were making little impact until the introduction of Stannard just before the hour perked them up a bit.
The fit-again Stannard equalised in the 66th minute. After exchanging passes with Frannie Collin, Stannard seemed to stumble as he went to shoot but managed to get just enough on his shot to find the bottom corner.
United were on terms for just five minutes, though, before Ramsgate grabbed what proved the winner. Rowe lost out Paxman, who squared for Alfie Paxman to knock the ball home as United's appeals for handball fell on deaf ears.
Ramsgate had a great chance to wrap up the points on the counter-attack. Millbank picked up a loose ball as Green slipped and played in Chapman, who shot just wide of the far post.
United threw Watt up-front in the latter stages and spent a fair bit of time in and around the opposing penalty area, but failed to come up the piece of quality they needed to find an equaliser.
Stannard shot wide from the edge of the box and saw a subsequent effort blocked, Watt failed to make contact with Bodkin's cross when invitingly placed and Collin fired wide of the near post after Watt flicked on Pidgeley's long free kick.
United remain 10th in the Ryman Football League Division One South table, but are now 10 points outside the play-off places and their next three games are all against teams in the top five.
United: Pidgeley, Butcher, Green (Dullaway 83), Emptage, Watt, Rowe, Bodkin, Johnson, Stevenson (Stannard 58), Collin, Evans. Subs not used: Akoto, Nicholls. Attendance: 236.
See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!