Hastings United finished a rollercoaster season on a high note this afternoon (Saturday).
Although already relegated from the Ryman Football League Premier Division, United restored some pride with a 1-0 win over mid-table Kingstonian at a sunny but not particularly warm Pilot Field.
United still finished bottom of the table because second-bottom Carshalton Athletic also won, 2-1 away to Enfield Town, but they were only a point behind a Lewes side which occupied the final safe spot of third-from-bottom.
There was a bit of an end of season feel to the game early on before United midfielder Jack Dixon flashed a shot just wide from outside the box and Jamil Okai shot straight into the arms of Daniel East at the other end from inside the area.
United were whiskers away from taking a 29th minute lead. Sam Adams latched onto a nice touch from man of the match Alassane N’Diaye and shook off the last defender only to hit the post with just the goalkeeper to beat.
N’Diaye then saw a back post header from Dee Okojie’s right wing cross deflected wide. Ben Judge flicked on Lee Carey’s resulting corner and although Sean Ray’s effort was blocked on the line, N’Diaye smashed home the rebound.
Dixon beat his man and fired just wide of the near post from outside the box as the U’s took a deserved lead into half time. They began the second period slowly, however, until Carey’s free kick from the edge of the box was blocked and Okojie sliced the follow up well wide.
Ray was just off target with a couple of headers from set-pieces either side of Okai firing just wide at the other end. United had a great chance to double their lead in the 75th minute, but substitute Danny Ellis blazed over with his left foot at the end of a four-on-three break.
Wade Small shot just wide of United’s far post after getting the better of Ray and Lewis Taylor couldn’t make meaningful contact with his shot while sliding at the far post. Taylor was sent-off in the 90th minute for what the referee seemed to indicate was an elbow in the middle of the pitch.
It was just United’s fourth home league win of a season containing 61 games in all competitions and their second ‘double’ having also triumphed 1-0 in the reverse fixture on April 8.
United: East, Cox, Richardson, Carey, Ray, Judge, Dixon (Warren 76), Crellin, Adams, N’Diaye, Okojie (Ellis 62). Subs not used: Vickers, Attwood. Attendance: 511.
Ryman Premier final standings (all played 42 matches): 1 Whitehawk 88pts, 2 Lowestoft Town 80, 3 Wealdstone 79, 4 Concord Rangers 76, 5 East Thurrock United 70, 6 Met Police 70, 7 Bury Town 66, 8 Canvey Island 64, 9 Margate 62, 10 Hendon 60, 11 Kingstonian 59, 12 Leiston 56, 13 Hampton & Richmond Borough 53, 14 Bognor Regis Town 53, 15 Harrow Borough 45, 16 Enfield Town 44, 17 Cray Wanderers 43, 18 Wingate & Finchley 42, 19 Thurrock 41, 20 Lewes 40, 21 Carshalton Athletic 40, 22 HASTINGS UNITED 39.