Hastings United Football Club went top of the table following a fourth league victory out of four this afternoon (Saturday).
Two more Daniel Ajakaiye goals and one from Jack Dixon gave Hastings a convincing 3-0 win at home to Phoenix Sports, and took them to the summit of Bostik League Division One South.
Whereas Hastings had been made to work for their previous victories, coming from behind at some stage in each of them, this was just about as straightforward as it gets.
Chris Agutter’s side controlled the game throughout, dominating possession with some eye-catching football, looking threatening in attack and virtually untroubled in defence against a Phoenix side which had won its previous three league contests.
Dayshonne Golding came close twice in quick succession after 10 minutes, firstly being denied by away goalkeeper Steve Phillips at the end of a remarkable solo run and then hitting the side-netting at the far post from Sam Beale’s inviting ball across goal.
Hastings took a deserved lead in the 24th minute. Sam Cruttwell showed terrific feet to work space for a shot which Phillips parried and Ajakaiye tapped home the rebound.
Later in the first half, a Golding shot following Cruttwell’s pass was saved by Phillips, who moments later did well to hold Cruttwell’s drive from outside the area low to his left.
Dixon seemed almost certain to make it 2-0 when he was allowed to bring the ball down from Kelvin Ogboe’s corner, but his powerful drive was well saved by Phillips. Ajakaiye’s shot shortly afterwards deflected just wide.
Having looked in no danger whatsoever during the first half, Hastings almost conceded just seconds after the break. Kweku Ansah shot wide from an inviting position inside the area after Jeff Duah-Kessie caused problems in the home defence.
Hastings quickly got back in the ascendancy, though. Dixon had a shot from distance tipped over before two goals in four minutes effectively put the result beyond doubt.
The home side went 2-0 up thanks to a moment of magic from Ajakaiye, who received a pass from Ogboe with his back to goal, brilliantly turned his marker, surged into the area and slotted through the legs of Phillips.
Soon afterwards it was 3-0. Ogboe’s cross following a short free kick on the left was headed home by Dixon at the far post.
Ajakaiye had a chance for his hat-trick soon afterwards, but his shot from inside the box was well blocked by Lewis Mingle. Five minutes later Cruttwell’s effort from outside the area went just wide.
Ajakaiye, Golding and Beale were all substituted, and the game rather petered out in the latter stages. Phoenix had a couple of opportunities to nab a consolation, firstly when Matthew Neary flicked into the arms of Charlie Horlock following more good work from Duah-Kessie and then Sinnkaye Christie did well to hook the ball clear after Neary knocked it past Horlock.
Phoenix ended the match with 10 men after Ansah was shown a straight red card for striking Cruttwell while he was on the ground, sparking a melee between the two sets of players with some people even leaving the dugouts to get involved.
Hastings: Horlock, Beale (Dullaway 77), Cruttwell, Howlett-Mundle, Christie, Golding (Walker 71), Lovatt, Ajakaiye (Adams 64), Ogboe, Mensah, Dixon. Subs not used: Fielding, Climpson. Attendance: 393.
Bostik League South East Division top half (all played 4 matches): 1 HASTINGS UNITED 12pts (+9 goal difference), 2 Cray Wanderers 12 (+9), 3 Whyteleafe 12 (+7), 4 VCD Athletic 12 (+4), 5 Ashford United 9 (+6), 6 Phoenix Sports 9 (+3), 7 Hythe Town 7 (+2), 8 Faversham Town 7 (+1), 9 Guernsey 6 (+1), 10 Sittingbourne 6 (0).
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