A brace of first half headers from Jack Dixon ensured Hastings United Football Club made a winning start to the new season.
Dixon’s double set Hastings on the way to a good 2-1 victory at home to Corinthian-Casuals in Bostik League Division One South this afternoon (Saturday).
Dixon was one of a handful of summer recruits named in the starting line-up by Hastings manager Adam Hinshelwood, along with Josh Pelling, Sam Beale, Lee Carey and Michael Aziaya.
Academy graduates Bradley Pritchard, Tom Climpson and Davide Rodari were also included in an opening day clash between two teams beaten on penalties in the play-offs last term.
After pugnacious Casuals forward Terson Dos Santos saw a close range header disallowed for a push on Carey, Hastings drew first blood in the 12th minute.
Sam Cruttwell’s free kick from the right was unwittingly glanced on by a Casuals head and the unmarked Dixon scored with a well-executed header at the far post.
Cruttwell blasted just over from outside the box and Dixon fired over from the edge of the area at a cleverly-worked corner, while Pelling comfortably held a Josh Uzun free kick, but on whole it was rather scrappy stuff until Dixon netted his and Hastings’ second in the 42nd minute.
Again the goal came from a set-piece. This time Pritchard launched a free kick forward from near the halfway line and Dixon outjumped Casuals goalkeeper Danny Bracken, who hurt himself in the collision, to score with a neat back header.
Hastings began the second half fairly brightly and the impressive Simon Johnson brought two fine saves out of Bracken, the first following a nice run and pass from Rodari, and the second after good hold-up play by Jack Harris.
Dixon had a firm 25-yard drive held by Bracken and Hastings, despite having to reshuffle their backline after half-an-hour when Climpson hobbled off to be replaced by Tom Vickers, looked comfortable.
That was until Casuals pulled one back from nowhere in the 78th minute. Mu Maan halved the visitors’ deficit with a terrific finish across Pelling high into the far corner from the right-hand side of the area.
Hastings, unsurprisingly, came under pressure thereafter and there were a couple of nervous moments before the final whistle eventually sounded after five-and-a-half minutes of added time.
Jamie Byatt’s deflected shot from the edge of the box clipped the outside of the post with Pelling scrambling across to his right and Uzun’s free kick from near the byeline on the away right was powerfully headed wide of the near post by the tall Jack Strange. Byatt also blasted high and wide from the left-hand side of the area.
United: Pelling, Pritchard, Beale, Carey, Aziaya, Climpson (Vickers 30), Rodari, Dixon, Harris, Johnson, Cruttwell (Rodrigues-Barbosa 87). Subs not used: Black, Dullaway, Medlock. Attendance: 436.
* SKILTEK will be offering away transport to Hastings United Football Club supporters this season.
A minibus will be going to the the first away league game against Carshalton Athletic on Monday night, leaving The Pilot Field at 5pm.
To reserve a seat, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 07970 332270. The cost is £15 per person or £10 for supporters’ club members.
Seats will be reserved on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. It is vital that anyone requesting a seat turns up on the day and ideally arrives 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time.