Hastings knocked off top after first loss

Hastings United suffered their first defeat of the season with a 3-1 loss away to Hythe Town this afternoon.
Hastings United suffered their first defeat of the season with a 3-1 loss away to Hythe Town this afternoon.

Hastings United Football Club’s six-match winning start to the season came to an end this afternoon (Saturday).

After four consecutive Bostik League Division One South victories and two Emirates FA Cup successes, Chris Agutter’s side was beaten 3-1 away to Hythe Town in the league.

Hastings have dropped one place to second in the table as a result, although they remain the division’s highest scorers.

See also: * Hastings end first month with perfect six wins
* Hastings claim higher level scalp in FA Cup
* Hastings go top after convincing victory

The visitors were the architects of their own downfall at Reachfields Stadium as they gifted Hythe their first two goals when their tactic of playing out from the back backfired.

Agutter promoted Sam Adams, Sonny Dullaway and Emmanuel Mensah to the starting line-up, with Sam Cruttwell, Jamie Fielding and Kelvin Ogboe dropping to the bench, where they were joined by new signing Hassan Ibrahim.

Hastings started the match fairly well, enjoying most of the possession and creating chances, albeit without really testing Hythe’s giant goalkeeper George Kamusari.

But a defensive mix-up led to Hythe taking the lead against the run of play in the 19th minute. Charlie Horlock and Sam Beale got themselves into a muddle, and Zak Ansah nipped in to score.

Hythe hit the post with a speculative effort before doubling their advantage in the 25th minute with an almost identical goal to their first, Ansah again the scorer.

Although they hadn’t really threatened besides the goals, Hythe remained two-up at the break and began the second half far more strongly. They went three-up in the 54th minute when Ansah converted the rebound to complete his hat-trick after Horlock had saved an initial cross-shot.

Hastings enjoyed quite a bit of possession thereafter, but didn’t do much with it on what had become a very frustrating afternoon in the Kent sunshine.

Cruttwell shaved the post with a free kick, while at the other end, Jack Sammoutis looked certain to score until stumbling at the vital moment.

Hastings at last had something to cheer in the 90th minute when Ibrahim struck a superb shot into the top corner from 25 yards on his debut.

Overall, though, this was something of a reality check for Hastings, whose stand-out player was probably Dayshonne Golding because of his workrate.

Hastings: Horlock, Beale, Howlett-Mundle, Christie (Cruttwell 56), Golding, Lovatt, Ajakaiye, Adams (Ibrahim 66), Dullaway (Ogboe 59), Mensah, Dixon. Subs not used: Vickers, Fielding. Attendance: 332.

Bostik League South East Division top half (all played 5 matches): 1 Cray Wanderers 12pts (+11 goal difference), 2 HASTINGS UNITED 12 (+7, 3 Whyteleafe 12 (+6), 4 VCD Athletic 12 (+2), 5 Hythe Town 10 (+4), 6 Faversham Town 10 (+3), 7 Ashford United 9 (+4), 8 Sittingbourne 9 (+1), 9 Phoenix Sports 9 (+1), 10 Ramsgate 6 (+1).

Hastings will be back in action on Tuesday night with an away game against East Grinstead Town in round one of the Velocity Trophy (league cup), kick-off 7.45pm.