Hastings United's footballers celebrated their first league 'double' of the season this afternoon (Saturday).
United saw off Whyteleafe 4-0 for the second time this term as they made it back-to-back Ryman Football League Division One South wins and clean sheets at a decidedly chilly Pilot Field.
Kiernan Hughes-Mason struck either side of half time to put United in charge and they impressed thereafter as they went on to comfortably record their 12th home league victory of the season.
The first half, though, was a fairly tight affair in which most of the noteworthy attempts at goal came from Whyteleafe. Harry Stannard had a decent opportunity for United when he headed straight at goalkeeper Ben Bridle-Card from Stephen Butcher's cross.
After that, Sam Clayton's left-foot shot from the edge of the box was pushed aside by United goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley, who then held John Scarborough's header from the resulting corner.
Clayton drilled a shot just wide of the near post before Andrew Musungu's angled effort was saved by the body of Pidgeley at the end of a Whyteleafe break. Shawn Clement-Peter headed over from a corner for the visitors.
United opened the scoring in bizarre fashion in the 45th minute. Frannie Collin's deep corner from the left was inadvertently headed towards his own goal by a Whyteleafe player and although the ball was cleared off the line, Hughes-Mason tapped home from close range.
The home side doubled its advantage with a splendid goal in the fourth minute of the second period. Half time substitute Callum Emptage delivered an inviting cross from the right which Hughes-Mason met with an equally good header into the far corner.
Jack Harris pulled his shot wide of the far post having been put through by a good ball from Stannard, who shortly afterwards sent over a fine cross from which Collin's shot was saved by the body of Bridle-Card.
United effectively wrapped up the points with a third goal - and their 90th in the league this season - in the 76th minute. Collin put Sam Cruttwell through and the substitute held off the last defender before finishing neatly with his less-favoured right foot.
Three minutes later, United completed the scoring with a fine goal on the break. Hughes-Mason played in Collin, who rounded the goalkeeper and rolled the ball home for his 23rd of the season and first in five games.
Whyteleafe were whiskers away from a consolation when Musungu was unfortunate to see his shot come back off the inside of the post at the end of a great solo run.
At the other end, Hughes-Mason - on a hat-trick - was twice denied by Bridle-Card with team-mates in better positions and then when he did pass to Collin, the offside flag denied United what would have been a nicely-worked goal.
Pidgeley pulled off a good save low to his right from Clayton's free kick with the final act of an encouraging afternoon for United, who again looked more secure defensively, albeit in front of their lowest crowd for a Saturday home fixture this season.
United remain 10th in the table, but they are now only six points off the play-off places and they've played fewer matches than all of the teams above them. Only six of their remaining 15 matches, however, are on home soil.
United: Pidgeley, Butcher (Emptage HT), Akoto, Evans, Sobers, Rowe, Hughes-Mason, Johnson, Harris (Cruttwell 66), Collin, Stannard (Stevenson 60). Subs not used: Watt, Nicholls. Attendance: 260.
Ryman Division One South top half (played-points): 1 Tooting & Mitcham United 33-74, 2 Dorking Wanderers 32-68, 3 Carshalton Athletic 34-64, 4 Hythe Town 32-61, 5 Lewes 33-61, 6 Greenwich Borough 32-60, 7 Corinthian-Casuals 32-60, 8 Cray Wanderers 32-56, 9 Walton Casuals 35-56, 10 HASTINGS UNITED 31-55, 11 Faversham Town 31-49, 12 South Park 26-47.
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