Hastings United’s footballers scored three goals in the space of five first half minutes en route to a 5-1 win at home to Molesey this afternoon (Saturday).
Shomari Barnwell netted his first two United goals before Frannie Collin scored his 28th of the season, and Ollie Rowe and Harry Stannard added to the tally during the second half.
The result - which was better than the overall performance - moved United up one place to sixth in Ryman Football League Division One South, and they’re now just one position and one point outside the play-off spots.
The very windy conditions were always likely to make life tricky for the players and United looked out-of-sorts during the first half-an-hour before being rampant during the next 15 minutes.
United had the first real chance when Molesey goalkeeper Liam Allen slipped as he came out to clear, but recovered well to touch Collin’s shot wide. The resulting Sam Cruttwell corner was flicked on at the near post by Kiernan Hughes-Mason and cleared off the line at the far post.
Molesey had the ball in the home net, but Ashley Lodge was booked for turning home a driven ball across goal with his arm at the far post.
United drew first blood in the 31st minute. Matt Bodkin collected Stephen Butcher’s crossfield ball and played a lovely pass through for Barnwell to roll a first time left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Three minutes later it was 2-0. Hughes-Mason played a neat one-two with Collin in the right-hand side of the area and his low cross eluded Allen, who ought to have done better, giving Barnwell a simple tap in.
Play had barely resumed when Collin’s firm drive from the edge of the box was handled in the opinion of the referee and Collin sent Allen the wrong way with the resulting penalty.
United could have been further ahead by half time. Collin was denied by Allen from a great position inside the box at the end of a flowing move before Barnwell headed wide of the near post from Butcher’s cross.
The home side rather lost its way during a second half which became rather frustrating. Molesey played a high defensive line and were open at the back, but United were frequently thwarted by the offside flag.
United did go four-up, though, on the hour. Collin whipped in an inviting free kick from the right and Ollie Rowe came up from the back to bury a powerful header into the corner of the net.
Molesey nabbed a consolation seven minutes later. Ashby Charles got the better of Sam Cruttwell to a lofted ball forward before slotting past home goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley.
United became increasingly sloppy after that and Pidgeley was required to beat away a shot from Lodge, while Joe Nwoko blazed over from the edge of the box.
United managed to add one more to their tally in the 86th minute. Harry Stannard released Hughes-Mason with a ball over the top and Hughes-Mason ran at the full-back before squaring across the box for Stannard to roll the ball home.
United: Pidgeley, Butcher, Cruttwell, Emptage, Sobers, Rowe, Bodkin (Stannard 64), Johnson, Barnwell (Kieran 77), Collin, Hughes-Mason (Smith 87). Subs not used: Akoto, Nicholls. Attendance: 578.
A minute’s silence was held before kick-off to honour the victims of the Westminster terror attack on Wednesday.
Ryman Division One South top 10 (played-points): 1 Tooting & Mitcham United 41-95 (+63 goal difference), 2 Dorking Wanderers 40-89 (+50), 3 Greenwich Borough 40-79 (+35), 4 Corinthian-Casuals 41-78 (+26), 5 Carshalton Athletic 41-74 (+36), 6 HASTINGS UNITED 40-73 (+58), 7 Lewes 41-73 (+15), 8 Hythe Town 41-71 (+22), 9 Faversham Town 41-66 (+29), 10 South Park 37-61 (+15).
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