Hastings United Football Club achieved its first win over top six opposition since early October this afternoon (Saturday).
A superbly taken second half goal from Davide Rodari gave Chris Agutter’s side a hard-earned 1-0 victory at home to Walton Casuals in Bostik League Division One South.
On a bitterly cold afternoon at The Pilot Field with light snow falling for much of the match, Walton carved out more of the chances, but Hastings secured their first win in four games thanks to Rodari’s 10th first team goal of the season and a first clean sheet since January 27.
Although both teams were keen to get the ball down and play, the first half was an uneventful affair of precious few scoring opportunities. Hastings played some neat football in their defensive third and the middle third, but lacked a cutting edge in the final third.
The best chance of the first half fell to Walton, but Josh Kelly couldn’t turn home Youssef Bamba’s angled drive across goal. Kelly had earlier cut out Tom Climpson’s back pass only to see his shot from the tightest of angles fingertipped wide by home goalkeeper Charlie Horlock.
Hastings at last registered a shot at goal in the 40th minute when Ollie Rowe’s low effort from outside the box was comfortably gathered by Walton stopper Denzel Gerrar.
On another good-looking Pilot Field pitch, the game opened up in the second half and there was more goalmouth incident as a result.
Rodari unsuccessfully tried to round Gerrar having been played in by Rowe’s headed throughball, while at the other end, Jack Sammoutis saw a low drive from just outside the area well gathered by Horlock and the same man shot just over from 25 yards.
Former Hastings player Tyrell Richardson-Brown sent an angled drive wide of the far post following a great diagonal ball from Daryl Coleman.
Hastings grabbed the all-important goal in the 59th minute. Antonio Walker ran at the Walton defence and rolled the ball across the edge of the area to Rodari, who took one touch to control before firing a terrific low left-footed shot into the net.
Rowe’s driven cross from the right was glanced beyond the far post by Adams 10 minutes later, and other than a couple of timely interventions by Rowe and Sam Beale in their own penalty box, the Hastings goal didn’t come under a great deal of threat until the latter stages.
Walton mustered four attempts at goal from the 88th minute onwards, but Hastings held on during a somewhat nervy finale to record their 15th league win of the campaign.
Kelly fired over with Horlock scrambling across the edge of his box, while substitute Isaac Sarpong’s shot from on the ground following a long throw deflected over.
In added time Horlock pulled off a tremendous reflex save from Kelly’s near post volley and then held Coleman’s shot on the turn from distance to send the shivering Hastings supporters home happy.
Hastings: Horlock, Rowe, Beale, Lovatt, Christie, Climpson, Rodari (Janneh 90+1), Adams, Walker (Harley 83), Dixon, Golding (Fielding 90+4). Subs not used: Pritchard, Taggart. Attendance: 263.
Bostik League Division One South top half (played-points): 1 Lewes 37-83, 2 Corinthian-Casuals 38-78, 3 Carshalton Athletic 36-77, 4 Greenwich Borough 37-73, 5 Cray Wanderers 38-72, 6 Walton Casuals 38-70, 7 Hythe Town 37-63, 8 Whyteleafe 38-62, 9 Phoenix Sports 38-57, 10 HASTINGS UNITED 38-56, 11 Thamesmead Town 37-49, 12 Horsham 36-49.
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