It certainly wasn’t a game that will live forever in the memory, but Hastings United just about did enough to clinch three precious points tonight (Monday).
A second half penalty from Sam Adams - his 100th goal for the club - earned the U’s a 1-0 victory at home to second-bottom Ramsgate in a key game towards the foot of Ryman Football League Division One South.
It was just United’s third home league win of the season and first in more than three months, and their first clean sheet in the league at The Pilot Field all term.
United started fairly positively and certainly had the vast majority of the chances during the first half on a freezing night, most of them coming during the opening 15 minutes.
Taser Hassan shot just wide of the near post from the left-hand side of the box and Sam Cruttwell’s long range effort was gathered by Ramsgate goalkeeper Nick Shaw at the second attempt, while Ade Olorunda called Shaw into action with a snap-shot and headed over from Cruttwell’s left wing cross.
Later in the half Olorunda was whiskers away from getting on the end of a dangerous low ball across goal from Cruttwell and then pulled a left-foot shot wide when invitingly placed having latched on to a long ball forward.
That was probably the best chance of the half, but the best save of the half came from United goalkeeper Josh Pelling, who dived to his right to palm away James Sherman’s goalbound header from a left wing free kick in Ramsgate’s only attempt of note.
The first half-an-hour of the second period produced more substitutions and cards than goalscoring opportunities on what surely wasn’t one of the referee’s better nights.
Pelling made a decent stop with his legs to deny Ramsgate substitute Colin Justin following a long free kick into the box, while at the other end, United defender Harvey Hanifan came agonisingly close to a goal on his home debut only for his header from an Adams corner to be brilliantly nodded off the line.
The decisive moment came in the 76th minute courtesy of the impressive Adams, who chased down what seemed a harmless ball forward and went down in the box having got goalside of Luke Wheatley. The referee pointed to the spot and showed Wheatley a second yellow card before Adams sent Shaw the wrong way with the resulting penalty.
Although Pelling saved a Macca Murray free kick low to his left and Aaron Quain wasn’t far away from another dead ball situation, United saw the game out fairly comfortably to move up three places to 16th.
United: Pelling, Rose, Cruttwell, Holden, Ray, Hanifan, Brinkhurst, Strong (T. Olorunda 60), A. Olorunda (Pogue 81), Adams, Hassan. Subs not used: Archibald, Temba, Dixon. Attendance: 233.
Standings (played-points): 1 Burgess Hill Town 26-68, 2 Faversham Town 30-68, 3 Folkestone Invicta 30-61, 4 Merstham 30-60, 5 Worthing 31-52, 6 Whyteleafe 30-47, 7 Whitstable Town 31-45, 8 Tooting & Mitcham United 30-41, 9 Guernsey 30-40, 10 Herne Bay 30-40, 11 South Park 26-39, 12 Chipstead 29-38, 13 Sittingbourne 31-38, 14 Three Bridges 29-38, 15 Carshalton Athletic 30-37, 16 HASTINGS UNITED 31-34, 17 Walton & Hersham 28-34, 18 Corinthian-Casuals 28-34, 19 East Grinstead Town 30-33, 20 Walton Casuals 29-31, 21 Hythe Town 29-30, 22 Redhill 26-25, 23 Ramsgate 29-25, 24 Horsham 27-20.