Hastings United continued their fine form with a 3-1 victory at home to Tooting & Mitcham United this afternoon (Saturday).
An own goal, and one apiece from Danny Ellis and Sam Adams made it five wins and a draw from United’s last six games and kept them second in Ryman Football League Division One South.
United gave a debut to Josh Hare and the on loan Gillingham defender appeared fortunate to get away with a little tug on Frankie Sawyer as the Tooting striker sought to latch onto a throughball in the first 70 seconds.
The hosts, though, took the lead inside four minutes. A fair percentage of United’s goals this season have come from Adams’s set-pieces and this was another as the United number 10 delivered a left wing corner which was headed into his own net by Colin Hartburn.
Rodrigo Branco wasn’t far away with a lob moments later and United doubled their advantage with a clever free kick in the 22nd minute. With most people expecting a cross, Adams pulled the ball back along the ground for the oncoming Ellis to thump a first time shot into the net.
On another pristine Pilot Field playing surface, United started to play some fine football and looked in complete control even things went rather quiet during the latter stages of the first half.
A crisp drive by Harry Knock was well beaten by United goalkeeper Josh Pelling four minutes into the second period and United went three-up in the 52nd minute. Adams curled a delightful left-foot shot into the bottom corner after good work from the returning Matt Darby.
United seemed to take their foot off the pedal thereafter and Tooting had a chance to pull one back, but Peter Wedgeworth dragged his shot wide when well placed. The visitors did get on the scoresheet through a cracking strike by ex-United forward Sawyer from the right-hand side of the box which went in off the far post.
The again impressive Adams spurned a great chance to make it 4-1, lifting the ball over Tooting goalkeeper Gareth Williams and the crossbar when one-on-one. Moments later Bailo Camara forced Williams into a good save with a left-foot shot on the turn.
Pelling tipped over a Tony Williams shot as the clock ticked into added time and right at the death, United substitute Jordan Woodley missed a sitter having been unselfishly played in by a clean through Adams.
United have now won more league games so far this season than they did in the whole of last term when they were relegated from the Premier Division.
United: Pelling, Slocombe, Richardson, Darby, Judge, Hare, Ellis, Olorunda, Branco (Woodley 47), Adams, Camara. Subs not used: Gilbert, Cruttwell, Fobi-Edusei, Burbridge. Attendance: 429.
Standings (played-points): 1 Walton Casuals 13-30, 2 HASTINGS UNITED 13-29, 3 Crawley Down Gatwick 13-24, 4 Ramsgate 14-23, 5 Peacehaven & Telscombe 12-22, 6 Leatherhead 11-20, 7 Guernsey 11-20, 8 Redhill 12-18, 9 Faversham Town 12-18, 10 Walton & Hersham 13-18, 11 Worthing 13-18, 12 Merstham 12-16, 13 Herne Bay 12-15, 14 Burgess Hill Town 12-15, 15 Hythe Town 11-14, 16 Horsham 11-14, 17 Three Bridges 12-14, 18 Whitstable Town 12-13, 19 Tooting & Mitcham United 13-13, 20 Folkestone Invicta 11-11, 21 Sittingbourne 10-10, 22 Chipstead 11-7, 23 Corinthian Casuals 12-7, 24 Eastbourne Town 12-7.