Hastings United’s footballers moved into the play-off places on the back of their biggest win since the opening day of the season this afternoon (Saturday).
The U’s recovered from going behind early on to record an emphatic 6-1 victory at home to Ryman Football League Division One South’s bottom club Whitstable Town.
Billy Medlock and Sean Ray scored two goals apiece, and there was one each for Tyrell Richardson-Brown and Ollie Rowe on a chilly afternoon at The Pilot Field.
It might have ended badly for Whitstable, but the visitors did at least start well by taking a fourth minute lead. Stuart King latched on to a ball down the right and cut inside before burying a low left-foot shot inside the near post for his fifth goal against United this term.
United responded well to that setback, however, and proceeded to boss the remainder of the game. They came close to an equaliser when Zac Attwood hit the post with a shot on the turn after a Sam Adams corner was met by the head of Ray.
United did get back on level terms in the 19th minute. Ray half-volleyed a Sam Cruttwell corner towards goal with his left foot and Medlock took a touch to control before slotting home from a couple of yards.
Sam Cole was denied by Whitstable goalkeeper Dan Eason as he bore down on goal and later shot wide of the far post following a lovely touch by Robin Deen. In between times, Dario Brown shot fractionally over United’s crossbar from 25 yards.
Medlock saw a fierce left-foot drive from just outside the D tipped over by Eason, but United hit the front when Ray headed home the resulting Adams corner in the 35th minute despite the efforts of the man on the line to keep it out. It was Ray’s 50th United goal and it came on his 35th birthday.
Into the second half and Medlock missed a glorious chance to make it 3-1 when he somehow failed to turn the ball home from close range after terrific work from Attwood.
Medlock made no mistake, however, in the 51st minute, turning his man inside the box and slamming the ball home to overtake Cole as United’s leading scorer this season with 16 goals.
Deen’s 25-yard drive was pushed away by Eason low to his right and Medlock pulled his shot wide of the near post after neatly lifting the ball over the last defender. At the other end, Doherty safely gathered Charlie Smith’s low 25-yard strike and did well to beat out King’s free kick from just outside the area.
After Medlock had the ball in the net only to be thwarted by the linesman’s flag, United added their fourth goal in the 78th minute. Ray rose highest to score his ninth of the season with another header from an Adams corner.
Cole volleyed just over from an Adams corner before United made it five in the 89th minute. A Whitstable defender could only head Cruttwell’s ball forward into the path of Richardson-Brown, who drilled a low shot past Eason from 20 yards.
That wasn’t the end of the scoring, though, because United added a sixth goal in added time. Ray again got his head to an Adams corner and after the ball bounced up against the chest of a Whitstable player, Rowe drove home with his left foot.
United gave a debut to 19-year-old defender Mitchell Dickenson, signed yesterday on a 30-day loan from Gillingham, as a second half substitute.
United: Doherty, Deen, Wilson (Dickenson 77), Cruttwell, Ray, Rowe, Medlock (Temba 74), Adams, Attwood (Richardson-Brown 74), Cumming-Bart, Cole. Subs not used: Foster, Johnson. Attendance: 387.
Ryman Division One South top 10 (played-points): 1 Folkestone Invicta 38-90, 2 Dorking Wanderers 38-74, 3 Worthing 37-71, 4 Herne Bay 38-69, 5 HASTINGS UNITED 34-65, 6 Hythe Town 36-65, 7 Faversham Town 37-64, 8 Corinthian-Casuals 37-63, 9 Ramsgate 38-61, 10 Molesey 36-61.
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