Hastings United Football Club saw its four-match unbeaten run ended by a narrow defeat away to top three opposition this afternoon (Saturday).
Chris Agutter’s side led twice through Simon Johnson and Sam Adams, but ultimately went down to a 3-2 loss against Corinthian-Casuals in Bostik Football League Division One South.
Agutter made two changes to his starting line-up from the 3-3 draw at home to Horsham four days previously, with John Akoto and Lee Carey returning to the 11.
New boys Ashan Jones and Tahjae Anderson, both of whom are dual registered with National League club Bromley, were among the substitutes, while Sam Cruttwell was left out of the 16 shortly before kick-off due to illness.
Hastings had the benefit of a strong, swirling wind during the first half and started well. They drew first blood in the third minute when Johnson produced a fine volley from the edge of the box through a crowd of players high into the net.
Casuals then came at Hastings and enjoyed a lot of possession. Although they initially didn’t do too much with it, it was no real surprise when they equalised in the 24th minute. Mu Maan turned the ball home after it came back off the crossbar.
The hosts, who in midweek became the first team to beat leaders Lewes in the league this season, remained on top for the remainder of the opening period and seemed to be first to everything.
The wind was even stronger in the second half, but despite now having the elements against them, Hastings again started brightly and retook the lead after 50 minutes.
Jones, who looked useful after coming on for Tom Vickers at half time, held the ball up and laid it off for Adams to drill a shot into the bottom corner for his fourth goal in as many matches.
Although Casuals struck the crossbar with a wind-assisted free kick from inside their own half, Hastings looked comfortable until conceding a second equaliser in the 66th minute. A ball across the six yard box was turned in at the far post and although credited to Max Oldham, the final touch may have come off a Hastings defender.
The visitors rather lost their way thereafter and Casuals swarmed all over them. Within three minutes of levelling, Casuals grabbed what proved the winner as Oldham found the net from a ball to the near post.
Hastings pushed for an equaliser in the final five minutes, but despite goalkeeper Charlie Horlock coming up for a couple of set-pieces, they didn’t really threaten. In fact, from Horlock’s second forward foray right at the end, Casuals broke and were only denied by Sam Beale’s intervention.
There was plenty of effort from Hastings, but Casuals - who were beaten 2-1 in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season - were the quicker side throughout and deserved their victory.
Hastings remain 14th in the table with 15 points from 13 matches, seven of which have been against sides in the top eight.
Hastings: Horlock, Akoto, Black, Carey, Whyborne, Rowe, Adams (Dixon), Vickers (Jones), Pogue (Anderson), Johnson, Beale. Subs not used: Lovatt, Rodari.