Josh Jirbandey marked his farewell appearance for Hastings United by scoring in the 1-1 draw at home to Wealdstone tonight (Tuesday).
The popular 21-year-old defender, who jets out to Lassen College in California later this week, put United ahead in what turned out to be their eighth successive Ryman Football League Premier Division draw.
United made five changes from the side which began the FA Cup third round tie away to Middlesbrough on Saturday and captain-for-the-night Jirbandey gave them the upper hand with a close range header from Lee Carey’s 16th minute corner.
They survived a couple of scares to lead at half time, but fourth-placed Wealdstone levelled within eight minutes of the restart. Jirbandey conceded a penalty for a foul on Chris O’Leary and although Liam O’Brien saved Chris Moore’s spot-kick, Alex Dyer turned in the rebound.
The U’s had a big let-off seven minutes later when O’Brien’s attempted clearance hit Moore and Richard Jolly shanked his shot wide of an empty net. At the other end, Bradley Goldberg got to a Danny Ellis throughball before the outrushing goalkeeper, but couldn’t direct his shot on target under pressure from a covering defender.
Tempers flared following a bad challenge by Wealdstone substitute Tom Pett on Jono Richardson, who was carried off. Pett escaped with a yellow card - the same punishment as a couple of United players for their part in the ensuing melee.
Wealdstone almost snatched the points in added time, but Dyer hit the post when clean through in front of a decent midweek crowd of 547. United are fourth-from-bottom of the table with 19 points from 18 games.
United (4-3-3): O’Brien; Dixon, Jirbandey, Manning, Richardson (Bachellier 77); Carey (Vickers 70), Crellin, Ellis; Okojie, Daly (Camara 69), Goldberg. Subs not used: Ray, Winchester.