Hastings United Football Club enjoyed some festive cheer with a much-needed victory this afternoon (Boxing Day).
The U’s put behind them a run of three defeats in their previous five matches with a 1-0 win at home to Walton Casuals in Ryman Football League Division One South.
In front of their highest crowd of the season so far, Billy Medlock came off the substitutes’ bench to give United a win which their second half performance deserved with the game’s only goal in the 76th minute.
After a quiet opening quarter, the game livened up during the remainder of the first half and both sides had their moments as play became fairly end to end on an excellent-looking playing surface.
Walton had a decent chance to open the scoring when a slide-rule pass by Billy Dunn played in Gabriel Odunaike, whose angled shot was just about kept out by slight touches from United goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell and defender Jack Walder.
Cruttwell gathered a low strike from outside the D by Omar Foulkes moments later, while at the other end, Zac Attwood’s shot on the turn was fingertipped against the post by Walton goalkeeper Brannon Daly low to his right.
Another decent opportunity came Walton’s way when Odunaike ran clear of the home defence and rolled the ball past Cruttwell only for Walder to scamper back and effect a superb goal-line clearance.
On a sunny and mild December afternoon at The Pilot Field, Walder then headed over at the other end from a Sam Adams corner and a long range piledriver by Sam Cruttwell flashed just wide.
United seemed to step up a gear after the break and were the better side during the second half. They had a great chance to take the lead within five minutes of the restart as Tyrell Richardson-Brown did brilliantly to put himself clear on goal, but ran the ball out of play when trying to round the goalkeeper.
Chris Cumming-Bart was just off target with a couple of efforts from outside the box as United were knocking on the door and they finally made the breakthrough with 15 minutes to go. Sam Cole’s firm drive from just outside the box was parried up in the air by Daly and Medlock toed home the loose ball on the volley.
Foulkes blazed a Stefan Cox cutback over the crossbar from an inviting position inside the box and Peter Wedgeworth wasn’t far away with a free kick in Walton’s only two moments of note during the second period.
At the other end, Daly made a double save to deny Bright Temba after good work from Richardson-Brown and Medlock in the build up, and Medlock shot just beyond the far post from the resulting corner.
It was United’s fourth consecutive home league win and their first clean sheet since the 1-0 victory at home to Chatham Town on Saturday November 7, with centre-halves Sean Ray and Walder both having decent afternoons.
Victory in United’s final home game of 2015 has left them eight points outside the play-off places with five games in hand.
United: M. Cruttwell, Rowe, Wilson, Johnson (Cumming-Bart 62), Ray, Walder, Richardson-Brown, S. Cruttwell (Temba 84), Attwood (Medlock 63), Adams, Cole. Subs not used: Jirbandey, Smith. Attendance: 474.
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