Hastings United’s unbeaten home league record was ended by table-topping opposition this afternoon (Saturday).
The U’s - who had won nine and drawn two of their previous 11 Ryman Football League Division One South fixtures at The Pilot Field - lost 2-1 against leaders Peacehaven & Telscombe after conceding an 87th minute winner.
United were distinctly second best during the opening quarter of the match on a welcome sunny afternoon. Peacehaven had a great chance to open the scoring in the eighth minute, but Josh Jones lifted his finish over United goalkeeper Josh Pelling and the crossbar after latching onto a ball over the top.
The same player then saw a free kick fairly comfortably saved by Pelling to his left. United came into the contest more as the first half wore on, although Peacehaven captain Ash Jones had a good sight of goal with a back post header following a short corner.
Tom Vickers came close for United when driving wide from just outside the box at the end of a fine run. The U’s were frustrated when the referee awarded them a free kick for a foul on Trevor McCreadie instead of allowing play to continue with Kenny Pogue clear through the inside right channel.
United drew first blood in the 44th minute. Sam Adams swung over a corner from the left and Tim Olorunda stuck out a leg to divert the ball into the net. Peacehaven almost hit straight back, but Josh Jones miscued his shot wide when well placed after Steve Metcalf got to the byeline on the away left.
The visitors - who possess the best goal difference in the division having scored far more than anybody else - did equalise less than 40 seconds into the second half. Tom Burton was unmarked at the far post to head home a Josh Jones cross from the left.
It developed into a good contest thereafter as United spent far more time on the front foot than they had before the break. It was Peacehaven’s turn to feel aggrieved at a refereeing decision in the 50th minute when a clean through Walker was flagged offside even though the ball got to him via Olorunda.
United were whiskers away from going back in front 16 minutes later as Ash Jones sliced a low cross from the left by Vickers against his own crossbar. At the other end, Dan McLaughlin grazed the outside of the near post with a near post header from a left wing corner.
On a pitch looking remarkably good considering all the recent bad weather, Walker’s firm drive following a mistake by Sean Kelly was beaten out by Pelling, while Walker later blazed well over when invitingly placed from a Josh Jones cutback.
Peacehaven won it with a disappointing goal from a defensive standpoint. The visitors won the first header from a free kick played into the box and Walker had a simple unopposed finish, sparking wild celebrations in the away camp.
United: Pelling, Gilbert, Henson, Olorunda, Judge, Kelly, Ellis, Adams, McCreadie (Camara 56), Pogue, Vickers (Dolan 85). Subs not used: Darby, Corrigan, Lee. Attendance: 568.
Top six standings (played-points): 1 Peacehaven & Telscombe 25-57, 2 Leatherhead 24-46, 3 HASTINGS UNITED 23-46, 4 Guernsey 25-45, 5 Walton Casuals 26-45, 6 Folkestone Invicta 25-43.