Only goal difference is keeping Hastings United’s footballers out of the relegation zone after another defeat this afternoon (Saturday).
The U’s slumped to a comprehensive 3-0 loss away to Carshalton Athletic and although they remain 20th in Ryman Football League Division One South, they are now level on points with the two teams immediately below them having played more matches.
There are three relegation places, but more often than not in recent seasons, at least one club has earned a reprieve. United have now picked up just three points from their last eight matches.
Much of the damage was done early on with United - whose line-up included a debut for Olalekan Rabiu, a new signing from Chatham Town, and a first start for recent recruit Matt Maclean - conceding twice in the first dozen minutes against 14th-placed opposition.
United were already without the likes of Evan Archibald, Sam Cruttwell, and Ade and Tim Olorunda, and Harvey Hanifan was replaced by Alex Hause after barely five minutes.
Five minutes after that and Carshalton - who were 2-1 winners in September’s reverse fixture at The Pilot Field - were in front. Austin Gacheru went through the middle and scored with a low shot.
Things got even worse for United just a couple of minutes later. Jordan Clarke curled a low shot beyond away goalkeeper Josh Pelling to double Carshalton’s advantage.
Clarke then flashed another shot narrowly wide as Carshalton went in search of more goals. Sam Adams fired a free kick straight at home goalkeeper Jack Eden in United’s first attempt of note before Jack McLean shot just over from outside the box.
Two-nil was how it remained at half time and the second period got off to a scrappy start until Pelling pulled off a decent stop from Mickel Miller to keep United’s slim hopes alive.
But it was only a temporary reprieve because Carshalton put the outcome beyond doubt with a third goal in the 67th minute. Brendan Murphy-McVey evaded several challenges in the United area before curling the ball into the net.
It was United’s fifth consecutive away defeat and they’ve only scored once during that sequence, although they have missed two penalties and four of those games have been against teams in the top 10.
United: Pelling, Brinkhurst, Turner, R. Rose (Foster), Ray, Hanifan (Hause), Richardson-Brown, Adams, McLean, Maclean, Rabiu (Gordon). Sub not used: D. Rose.
Ryman Division One South bottom five (played-points): 20 HASTINGS UNITED 39-37 (-13 goal difference), 21 Ramsgate 38-37 (-28), 22 East Grinstead Town 38-37 (-34), 23 Redhill 37-35 (-22), 24 Horsham 39-30 (-46).