HASTINGS United claimed a priceless three points in their fight against relegation by running out 1-0 winners at home to Billericay Town.
Ollie Rowe’s first goal for the club sealed victory against the form team in the Premier Division of the Ryman Premier.
It arrived a couple of minutes before half time when from a short corner the ball was delivered into the box for full back Rowe to score with a header in the bottom corner of the Billericay net.
Hastings were unlucky not to be in front before then because - as well as having a good shout for a penalty waved away when Matt Hall appeared to be fouled - Sam Adams saw his well-struck effort cannon off the base of the far post.
The visitors, who before Saturday’s game had picked up 16 points from a possible 18, did have the ball in the net but the effort was ruled offside. Not long after keeper Seb Barton pulled off a superb one-handed save to deny Harrison Chatting.
Hastings suffered a blow on the hour mark when swashbuckling midfielder Tim Olorunda went off injured, and for the next 10 minutes or so they were pinned back in their own half.
Despite conceding territory and possession Billericay struggled to get past a solid defensive wall held together by Josh Jirbandey and Sean Ray, who was celebrating his 30th birthday, and Hastings chalked up their first clean sheet since a goalless draw against Lowestoft Town way back on October 23.
Hastings: Barton, Rowe, Storrie, Olorunda (Manning 59), Ray, Jirbandey, Adams, Beautyman, Porter, Hall, Eldridge (White 88). Subs not used: Parris, Newman, Chalmers-Stevens.
Referee: Ben Knight (Waterlooville). Attendance: 363.