Cruel defeat puts U’s second-bottom

Sam Adams gave Hastings United a deserved half time lead against Hendon. Picture by Terry S. Blackman
Sam Adams gave Hastings United a deserved half time lead against Hendon. Picture by Terry S. Blackman

Hastings United have fallen back into the drop zone following a cruel 2-1 defeat at home to Hendon this afternoon (Saturday).

With several of the sides around them winning, the U’s dropped back into the second and final Ryman Football League Premier Division relegation place. They sit one point behind third-bottom Lewes with two games in hand.

United could consider themselves desperately unfortunate, however, to see their two-match winning run come to an end having been the better side for much of the game and hit the woodwork twice.

After a fairly even first half-hour at a rainy Pilot Field during which player-manager Sean Ray came off through injury, United got on top during the final 15 minutes of the opening period.

The home side took the lead in the 37th minute when a Hendon defender made a dreadful mistake inside his own box and Lee Carey hooked the ball back for Sam Adams to sweep home a low left-foot shot.

United were good value for their half time advantage with Hendon not even mustering a single attempt at goal. The visitors made a better start to the second period, though, and levelled in the 57th minute when a corner was bundled in by Carl McCluskey despite the efforts of goalkeeper Daniel East.

East saved from Dave Diedhiou and Sam Flegg wasn’t far away with a header from the resulting corner as Hendon enjoyed a good five-minute spell, but once United had weathered that, they began to boss things again.

United were agonisingly close to going back in front in the 76th minute. Lee Carey managed to get a boot to Jack Dixon’s low cross while at full stretch and his effort took a massive deflection off a defender before touched onto the post by the goalkeeper diving low to his right.

Danny Ellis had a low shot saved when in space just outside the D and the same player then hit the post with a low shot from the right-hand side of goal. Giving it their all despite the heavy conditions and the number of recent games, United looked the only side that was going to win the game.

It therefore came totally out of the blue that Hendon stole the points with a 87th minute winner. A hanging cross from the left was headed against the far post by substitute Junior Lewis and Casey Maclaren scrambled in the rebound.

United: East, Cox, Murphy (McDonald 89), Carey, Ray (Judge 27), Richardson, Ellis, Crellin (Vickers 67), Dixon, N’Diaye, Adams. Sub not used: Williams. Attendance: 401.

Of the other clubs fighting relegation, Harrow Borough won 2-1 at Concord Rangers, Lewes lost 1-0 at home to Leiston, Carshalton Athletic pulled off a surprise 3-2 victory away to high-riding Lowestoft Town, Thurrock lost 2-1 at home to Bognor Regis Town, Cray Wanderers lost 2-0 at Wealdstone and Wingate & Finchley, who were below United at kick-off, won 3-0 at home to Kingstonian.

Ryman Premier bottom eight (played-points): Enfield Town 39-41, Harrow Borough 37-40, Thurrock 37-38, Wingate & Finchley 39-38, Cray Wanderers 38-37, Lewes 38-36, HASTINGS UNITED 36-35, Carshalton Athletic 39-34.