Southall praises United players

NEVILLE Southall praised his players after maintaining his 100 per cent start to life as manager at Hastings United with a 2-0 defeat of Corinthian Casuals.

Two second half goals from Chris Honey secured the points on Saturday for a United side with their sights now firmly set on sneaking into one of the play-off places in Ryman Division One.

Since taking charge of team affairs, Southall has overseen victories over Dorking, Molesey and now fifth-placed Corinthian, all without conceding a goal.

He said: "You've got to give credit to the people who have been here before and the lads themselves. The lads have picked themselves up and done really well. Vinny (Moorton) and Dave (Walters) have obviously looked after the team well and things have changed round slowly and maybe we weren't at the races today at some stages but at the same time they got the rewards. They worked hard and it wasn't quite going for us but they got the result."

Hastings needed to work hard because they struggled to find their true form against workmanlike opposition who had tasted victory over their hosts when they last met in November, a result that hastened the departure of Southall's predecessor Steve Lovell.

"Today was our poorest game against the best team we have played. Whatever that tells you I don't know," the Hastings boss went on. "It was one of those sort of days. We did have a little chat at half time and they responded in the right manner."

One player who led by example was Honey who claimed his seventh and eighth goals of the season to enliven a sluggish match that only really got going in the last half an hour.

He opened his account on 29 minutes when the bustling centre-forward took advantage of a defensive mistake to steer a low finish across the dive of goalkeeper Gareth Williams and inside the far post.

Soon after strike partner Simon Rowland came close to doubling the lead but this time Williams managed to beat out his shot. Rowland also had the next real chance, some 35 minutes later, but once again the Corinthian stopper clawed out a close range volley that had seemed destined for the net.

The visitors created very little against a solid Hastings back-line missing the suspended Sean Ray (which meant a first start for new signing Ryan Bernard), but they did have one very good chance 20 minutes from time when Mark Simmons' sublime chipped pass picked out Tony Blunt whose finish took a deflection past the post.

Hastings made the points safe with a quarter of an hour to go when Jimmy Elford, making his 100th appearance for the club, spotted the run of Honey and launched a long ball over the last defender. Williams looked favourite to clear but Honey showed the determination that so typifies his game to slide in and take both man and ball before tucking into an empty net.

Substitute Lee Barnett almost made it three late on but Williams saved low at his post.