Hastings United Football Club’s winless run continues following an away defeat against top five opposition this afternoon (Saturday).
Chris Agutter’s side was edged out 2-1 against Walton Casuals in Bostik Football League Division One South despite taking an early lead through Kenny Pogue.
Agutter selected a more experienced starting line-up than many Hastings have fielded this season. New signing Rhys Whyborne and the fit-again Tom Vickers formed a new central defensive pair, John Akoto came in at right-back and Dean Bown made his first start up-front.
Hastings got off to a dream start with a goal after barely a minute. Sam Cruttwell played Pogue through on the left and he drilled a low shot past the goalkeeper.
From then on Walton, playing at their impressive new stadium, looked dangerous going forward and enjoyed more of the ball, although not necessarily more of the chances as the Hastings defence coped with the home threat commendably well.
Walton equalised, however, in the 17th minute. Jack Battie’s corner was poked in from close range by Josh Kelly.
The hosts were pushing and pushing thereafter, but although they looked threatening, their final ball didn’t really trouble Hastings. Hastings mustered the odd forward foray and the odd snap-shot, but nothing that really threatened Walton.
To the surprise of just about everyone, Walton were awarded a penalty for what must’ve been the tiniest of infringements. Justice was perhaps done, though, because Hastings goalkeeper Charlie Horlock pulled off a fine save diving to his right.
Walton mounted attack after attack, but nothing came of any of them and the score remained 1-1 at half time.
Other than a Sam Beale shot which sailed just over, the opening 15 minutes of the second period were rather forgettable.
Casuals went close a couple of times, but Hastings started to offer more of an attacking threat. Sam Adams was just off target with a cheeky lob and Pogue was twice denied by the goalkeeper from good positions.
Immediately after Pogue’s second effort, Walton went straight up the other end and grabbed what proved to be their winner. Kelly drilled home his second goal of the afternoon from the edge of the area.
Hastings got in and around the Walton penalty area a few times during the closing minutes, but were closed down quickly and Walton ran the clock down to see the game out.
Hastings will rue missing those second half chances and had they been converted, the outcome could well have been different.
The effort was certainly there and there were some stand-out individual performances. Whyborne and Vickers did pretty well at the back, and Adams was outstanding further forward, but Hastings couldn’t get enough grip of the midfield.
The result drops Hastings to 18th in the table with eight points from their first nine league games. They will seek a first win since August 26 when they host Carshalton Athletic on Tuesday night, kick-off 7.45pm.
Hastings: Horlock, Akoto, Beale, Carey (Janneh), Whyborne, Cruttwell, Vickers (Dullaway 90), Dixon, Bown (Rodari 57), Pogue, Adams. Subs not used: Rowe, Lovatt.