Hastings United Football Club produced one of its finest performances for many a season to demolish top three opposition tonight (Tuesday).
United were simply superb as they romped to a 5-0 win at home to Carshalton Athletic and moved into the Ryman Football League Division One South play-off places as a result.
Carshalton arrived at The Pilot Field off the back of six successive victories, but they were blown away by a United side which has now picked up 19 points from a possible 21 and kept five consecutive clean sheets.
What’s more, it was achieved barely 48 hours after United’s previous fixture - a 1-0 win away to Guernsey on Sunday.
United, who welcomed back goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley and full-back Johnny Akoto, opened the scoring in the 24th minute. Frannie Collin’s initial header following a great run and cross by Matt Bodkin was saved, but Collin reacted quickly to stab home the rebound.
Working hard to win the ball back when they didn’t have possession and using it nicely when they did have it, United added a second goal six minutes later.
The referee played a good advantage when he might have blown for a foul on Collin, allowing Harry Stannard to run at the Carshalton defence and work space to curl a lovely left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Two-up at half time, United set about extending their advantage after the turnaround and Bradley Stevenson had the ball in the net only to be denied by the offside flag.
Stevenson then couldn’t make clean contact with his shot from Bodkin’s cut-back and Bodkin brought a fine save out of Carshalton goalkeeper Joe Tupper with a side-foot volley from Stannard’s cross.
Collin’s powerful drive at the end of a flowing move was tipped over, but the third goal - which had been coming - arrived from the resulting corner. Collin’s delivery from the right was met with an emphatic first time volley from the excellent Jack Evans, which flew in at the near post.
Omar Folkes blazed over from Carshalton’s first real chance of the match before United made it 4-0 in the 71st minute. Another Collin corner, this time from the left, was powered into the net by the head of centre-half Jerrome Sobers for United’s 100th league goal of the season.
Tommy Bradford’s shot deflected just wide and a Jordan Hibbert effort from distance was gathered low down by Pidgeley, while at the other end, Kiernan Hughes-Mason stepped inside a defender only to slice his shot wide.
The fifth goal, in the 87th minute, was the pick of the bunch. Hughes-Mason struck a magnificent curling shot from just outside the left-hand corner of the box right into the far top corner for a goal reminiscent of Stannard’s beauty against Lewes on Boxing Day.
United now occupy the final play-off place of fifth, and are just three points behind Carshalton with two games in hand.
United: Pidgeley, Akoto, Cruttwell, Evans (Watt 88), Sobers, Rowe, Bodkin, Johnson (Harris 77), Stannard, Collin, Stevenson (Hughes-Mason 70). Subs not used: Climpson, Nicholls. Attendance: 320.
Ryman Division One South top 10 (played-points): 1 Tooting & Mitcham United 34-77 (+52 goal difference), 2 Dorking Wanderers 34-74 (+44), 3 Carshalton Athletic 36-67 (+32), 4 Greenwich Borough 34-66 (+30), 5 HASTINGS UNITED 34-64 (+53), 6 Corinthian-Casuals 34-63 (+18), 7 Hythe Town 34-62 (+23), 8 Lewes 34-61 (+6), 9 Faversham Town 34-56 (+26), 10 Cray Wanderers 33-56 (+11).
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