Hastings United Football Club was victorious in its first league game for nearly four weeks.
A solitary first half goal from Sam Adams was enough to earn a 1-0 win away to Guernsey this afternoon (Sunday) and move Hastings up to fourth in the Bostik League South East Division.
It certainly wasn’t Hastings’ best performance of the season so far, but they did enough to clinch their sixth victory in seven league encounters.
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Hastings welcomed back Sam Beale from injury at left-back and Tom Climpson came into the centre of defence, with Sinnkaye Christie shuffling across to right-back. Sam Cruttwell and Jamie Fielding dropped to the bench.
With the ball running quickly across a firm Footes Lane pitch in the Channel Islands sunshine, the half time scoreline felt about right seeing as Hastings enjoyed more of the opportunities.
The visitors started well enough and almost took the lead in the opening minute. Youssuf Bamba did brilliantly to skip past his man near the byeline, but neither he nor Daniel Ajakaiye could quite force the ball past Guernsey goalkeeper Callum Stanton.
Bamba, who caused lots of problems for Guernsey right-back Tom De La Mare during the first half, had a great chance just three minutes later when put through by Ajakaiye, but his shot was saved by Stanton.
Hastings survived a scare after 15 minutes. A short corner was crossed to the near post and headed against the inside of the far post, just about staying out before Christie cleared.
Hastings ought to have taken the lead in the 24th minute. Dayshonne Golding squared from the right-hand side of the box to Ajakaiye, who blazed over from eight yards, although the ball did seem to bobble up in the act of shooting.
What turned out to be the winning goal arrived 11 minutes later. Golding ran at the Guernsey defence on the Hastings right and got to the byeline before playing the ball across for Adams to turn home from close range.
Golding almost scored himself in the 41st minute when he raced away down the right and flashed an angled shot across the face of goal.
Guernsey had a couple of opportunities shortly before the break. Jamie Dodd got on the end of Stanton’s long kick over the Hastings defence, but a heavy touch allowed Hastings goalkeeper Charlie Horlock to gather.
Moments later a superb diagonal ball found Matt Loaring and he got past Christie before unleashing a shot which Horlock saved.
The second half won’t live long in the memory, but this time more of the opportunities fell to Guernsey, who might well have felt hard done by to have come away empty-handed.
There was little incident at either end until Guernsey enjoyed a dominant five-minute spell midway through the half which could quite easily have yielded an equaliser.
The dangerous Loaring again got in behind Christie from a long diagonal ball, but pulled his left-footed shot inches wide of the far post. Horlock then saved a low shot at his near post and Carlos Canha volleyed wide at the far post from Liam Mahon’s left wing cross.
Hastings weathered the storm and weren’t far away from a second goal when an Adams free kick from right on the edge of the area found the side-netting.
Hastings: Horlock; Christie, Howlett-Mundle, Climpson, Beale; Lovatt, Dixon, Adams; Golding (Fielding 76), Ajakaiye, Bamba (Vickers 90). Subs not used: Cruttwell, Taylor, Ibrahim. Attendance: 678.
Bostik League South East Division top half (played-points): 1 Cray Wanderers 10-28 (+19 goal difference), 2 Phoenix Sports 11-20 (+5), 3 Hythe Town 10-19 (+6), 4 HASTINGS UNITED 7-18 (+10), 5 VCD Athletic 10-18 (-1), 6 Whyteleafe 8-15 (+6), 7 Haywards Heath Town 9-15 (+5), 8 Whitstable Town 10-15 (-1), 9 Sittingbourne 10-14 (-1), 10 Ramsgate 9-13 (+2).