Terry White celebrated his first win since his recent appointment as Hastings United manager tonight (Monday).
United scored two first half goals en route to a 2-1 victory at home to Walton & Hersham which moved them past the 50-point mark in Ryman Football League Division One South.
The U’s looked firmly in command at the break thanks to an own goal and a Danny Ellis strike, but they never really got going after the restart and in the end it wasn’t as straight-forward as it had looked like being.
White had brought in four players during the first week of his tenure and gave a start to one of them, midfielder Tom O’Connor. The other three - Josh Jirbandey, Josh Oyinsan and Frankie Sawyer - all featured as second half substitutes.
Tom Vickers had a low drive saved and Sam Adams lofted over before United took a 15th minute lead. Matt Darby played a good ball to Vickers, who skinned his marker and delivered a dangerous delivery across goal which was turned into his own net by Walton defender Andy Lomas.
Walton offered little in the first 25 minutes until suddenly enjoying a decent five-minute spell during which United were grateful to see the offside flag go up when Gary Drewett was clean through on goal.
United doubled their advantage in the 34th minute. Ellis controlled a Vickers pass which didn’t look like it was meant for him before driving forward and burying a low finish past Walton goalkeeper Dane Buss.
Jon Boswell flashed a shot just over United’s crossbar after the hosts failed to clear a low cross from the right, while O’Connor chipped the ball over at the other end on the stroke of half time after Darby’s free kick made its way through to him.
Walton pulled one back less than four minutes into the second period. United full-back Andy Henson made a hash of his header and although Josh Pelling made a good save from Drewett diving to his right, Andre Scarlett followed up to convert the rebound.
Ellis had the ball in Walton’s net again only to be denied by an offside flag, Adams wasn’t far away with a 25-yard strike after intercepting a misdirected pass from a Walton defender, Jirbandey headed just over from an Adams corner and Buss smothered at the feet of Sawyer.
There were a couple of anxious moments for United towards the end. Ashley Thompson’s volley from just outside the box was well held by Pelling low to right and Jirbandey made a vital clearance from near the goal-line following Samad Kazi’s ball across goal.
The match was finally completed at the third time of asking following a postponement and abandonment. Spectators were invited to pay what they chose with proceeds going to St Michael’s Hospice and £584.24 was raised for the charity.
United: Pelling, Darby, Henson, Olorunda, Judge, Kelly (Jirbandey 54), Ellis, Adams, Pogue (Oyinsan 80), O’Connor (Sawyer 62), Vickers. Subs not used: Cruttwell, Dolan. Attendance: 274.