Hastings United Football Club ended its winless run with a determined come-from-behind victory today (Saturday).
Chris Agutter’s side overturned a half time deficit to triumph 2-1 at home to VCD Athletic in a Bostik League South East Division match played in atrocious conditions.
Right wing-back Jamie Fielding and central defender Tom Climpson - two academy products - were the unlikely scorers as Hastings ended a run of three successive league defeats.
The result keeps Hastings second in the table and they are now eight points behind leaders Cray Wanderers, who suffered their first league defeat of the season with a 4-2 loss away to third-placed Horsham.
See also: * Hastings United boss: ‘We gave up’ in defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion
* Hastings United seen off by Brighton & Hove Albion
* Hastings United stay second despite defeat to Haywards Heath Town
Missing the likes of Sam Adams, Daniel Ajakaiye, Lanre Azeez, Youssouf Bamba, Sam Beale and Emmanuel Mensah, Hastings recalled Ollie Black from Eastbourne Town to play at left wing-back and gave a debut to Jordy Mongoy up-front.
Hastings enjoyed the lion’s share of possession during a fairly uneventful first half and passed the ball pretty well for the most part, but lacked a creative spark in the final third and fashioned few opportunities as a result.
Mongoy shot wide in the first two minutes after Jack Tucker got his head to Sam Cruttwell’s corner, while Climpson was off target from outside the box having driven forward from defence.
VCD opened the scoring with their only real attempt at goal of the match in the 26th minute. A loose Hastings pass in-field from near the left-hand touchline was picked up by Alastair Gordon, who played a neat one-two with Charlie MacDonald before finishing clinically.
Hastings defender Jahmal Howlett-Mundle was booked - and might have been a touch fortunate to escape further punishment - for a lunging tackle with his foot slightly raised just inside the home half of the field.
With the rain coming down even harder and the wind remaining equally strong, Hastings really dug in during the second half and started to carry more attacking threat.
Black shot narrowly over from 30 yards before Hastings equalised in the 55th minute. Cruttwell looked to have underhit his pass, but Fielding dispossessed a VCD defender and beat goalkeeper Joe Mant at his near post with a shot which ended up in the roof of the net.
With the pitch becoming increasingly wet but certainly still playable, the momentum was now with Hastings and they looked the only team likely to go on and win the game.
Mongoy drove wide of the near post from the right-hand side of the area and Antonio Walker brought a diving save out of Mant with a great strike from 30 yards.
Hastings grabbed a deserved winner in the 74th minute. Cruttwell’s corner from the left was headed firmly into the corner of the net by Climpson - the match sponsor’s man of the match - for his first goal of the season.
Five minutes later Cruttwell delivered a corner from the right which swung in massively on the wind and ended up going just wide of the far post with nobody able to apply a decisive touch.
VCD started to spend a bit of time in Hastings’ defensive third during the latter stages, albeit without troubling Charlie Horlock in the home goal.
That said, the visitors had a huge penalty shout turned down in the 87th minute. Black appeared to bring down MacDonald with a sliding tackle, but the referee waved away VCD’s appeals and booked MacDonald for picking the ball up.
Hastings: Horlock; Howlett-Mundle, Climpson, Tucker; Fielding, Lovatt, Cruttwell (Ibrahim 90+2), Dixon, Black; Walker, Mongoy (Curran 86). Subs not used: Taylor, Ogboe, Williams. Attendance: 242.
Bostik League South East Division top half (played-points): 1 Cray Wanderers 16-39 (+20 goal difference), 2 HASTINGS UNITED 16-31 (+14), 3 Horsham 16-31 (+13), 4 Whyteleafe 16-29 (+15), 5 Haywards Heath Town 16-28 (+8), 6 Ashford United 16-27 (+10), 7 Hythe Town 17-27 (+5), 8 Phoenix Sports 17-25 (+4), 9 VCD Athletic 15-22 (+1), 10 Sevenoaks Town 16-21 (-3).