Defeat puts U’s out of play-offs

Frankie Sawyer scored a late consolation in Hastings United's 2-1 defeat away to Peacehaven & Telscombe. Picture by Terry S. Blackman
Frankie Sawyer scored a late consolation in Hastings United's 2-1 defeat away to Peacehaven & Telscombe. Picture by Terry S. Blackman
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Hastings United have dropped out of the play-off places after suffering a fourth defeat in five matches this afternoon (Easter Monday).

The U’s lost 2-1 away to runaway Ryman Football League Division One South champions Peacehaven & Telscombe and have fallen below Burgess Hill Town, who were 3-0 winners at home to Corinthian-Casuals.

United must therefore win their final game at home to second-bottom Crawley Down Gatwick on Saturday and hope that Burgess Hill drop points away to mid-table Sittingbourne if they are to sneak back inside the all-important top five.

Injury-hit United again fielded a below strength line-up. Frankie Sawyer and Taser Hassan were only among the substitutes after coming off injured in the 3-1 win at home to Whitstable Town on Saturday, and there was no Sam Cruttwell so Andy Corrigan, Tristan Toney and Josh Oyinsan came into the starting XI.

Peacehaven, who are 18 points clear at the top of the table having won 33 and lost just four of their 45 league games, came close to opening the scoring when Jamie Brotherton’s shot rattled the crossbar.

The hosts did go ahead in the 20th minute, Tom Burton heading home from a Tom Lawley free kick. Peacehaven had a golden opportunity to double their advantage before the break, but Charlie Walker struck the inside of the post with a penalty awarded for a foul on Brotherton.

Walker made amends in the 67th minute, though, by tapping home a Lloyd Cotton cross to make it 2-0. United pulled one back out of nothing in the final minute when Sawyer volleyed home after Matt Darby got his head to a Sam Adams corner.

There was still time for United goalkeeper Josh Pelling to make a superb save from Josh Jones, while at the other end, Oyinsan couldn’t turn home Sawyer’s header across goal and Adams saw a shot blocked in the six yard box.

United’s ninth defeat in their 13 away matches since Christmas means they have lost more than half of their league games away from The Pilot Field this season. Peacehaven became the second team - after Guernsey - to do the double over them having also won 2-1 in January’s reverse fixture.

United: Pelling, Darby, Corrigan, Olorunda, Judge, Toney (Sawyer), Ellis (O’Connor), Adams, Pogue (Hassan), Oyinsan, Ferguson. Subs not used: Woodley, Nessling.

Ryman Division One South top seven (all played 45 matches): 1 Peacehaven & Telscombe 107pts (+75 goal difference), 2 Leatherhead 89 (+45), 3 Folkestone Invicta 88 (+43), 4 Guernsey 80 (+28), 5 Burgess Hill Town 76 (+21), 6 HASTINGS UNITED 76 (+10), 7 Merstham 73 (+17).