Hastings United up to second after hard-fought win

Daniel Ajakaiye's 26th goal of the season earned Hastings United a 2-1 win at home to Faversham Town this afternoon. Picture courtesy Scott White
Daniel Ajakaiye's 26th goal of the season earned Hastings United a 2-1 win at home to Faversham Town this afternoon. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United Football Club climbed back up to second in the table following a hard-fought victory this afternoon (Saturday).

A goal in either half from Sam Adams and Daniel Ajakaiye gave Hastings a 2-1 win at home to Faversham Town and ended a run of four Bostik League South East Division games without a victory.

Hastings are now two points above Ashford United, who started the day above them but lost 2-1 away to Herne Bay, having played an extra game.

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Sam Beale came straight back into the Hastings starting line-up after more than two months out injured, while Antonio Walker started a game for the first time since Boxing Day.

Faversham arrived at The Pilot Field having picked up 10 points from a possible 12 and started very brightly, albeit without testing Charlie Horlock in the home goal.

Hastings soon warmed to the task, though, and opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Ajakaiye was tripped in the left-hand side of the penalty area and Adams emphatically slammed home the resulting penalty, sending goalkeeper William Godmon the wrong way.

The home side twice came close to doubling its advantage. Jamie Fielding’s header back across goal from a deep Sam Cruttwell corner was nodded off the line and Jordy Mongoy’s shot at the end of a sweeping move was saved by the feet of Godmon.

Hastings looked fairly well in control until rather gifting Faversham a 38th minute equaliser. Cruttwell gave the ball away just outside his own penalty area and Faversham pounced, Liam King firing a terrific angled shot into the roof of the net.

Hastings had a loud penalty appeal turned down when Godmon poleaxed Mongoy with his foot as he caught an aerial ball, while at the other end, David Cook glanced a header onto the top of the net and Hastings full-back Ollie Black made a vital block from the same player.

The opening 20 minutes of the second half proved something of a stalemate with little incident at either end until Hastings defender Jahmal Howlett-Mundle produced a good sliding block from Ashley Miller’s shot.

Hastings grabbed what proved to be the winner from nowhere really in the 66th minute. Ajakaiye latched on to a terrific ball down the left by Cruttwell and executed a delightful chip over Godmon, who came out too far, into the net.

The lead never looked until a great deal of threat thereafter as Hastings saw a keenly-contested game out fairly well.

Cook was whiskers away from getting his head to a lovely driven cross by King and the in-form Fielding - the match sponsor’s man of the match - did well to block an Ashley Miller shot, but Horlock wasn’t called into action.

At the other end, Faversham defender Ryan Huckle nipped the ball away from Ajakaiye after it dropped down from a challenge between Mongoy and Godmon, and Ajakaiye blazed over from 15 yards following a great ball over the top from Beale to release Mongoy.

Adams hobbled off towards the end, but Lanre Azeez made his return from injury as a second half substitute and 16-year-old James Pool did a decent job after coming on for the last half-an-hour.

Hastings: Horlock; Fielding, Howlett-Mundle, Cruttwell, Black (Pool 63); Walker (Azeez 68), Lovatt, Adams (Climpson 89), Beale; Mongoy, Ajakaiye. Subs not used: Curran, Janneh. Attendance: 370.

Bostik League South East Division top half (played-points): 1 Cray Wanderers 26-65 (+38 goal difference), 2 HASTINGS UNITED 26-50 (+23), 3 Ashford United 25-48 (+28), 4 Horsham 25-48 (+18), 5 Haywards Heath Town 25-45 (+13), 6 Whyteleafe 25-41 (+14), 7 Hythe Town 26-39 (+7), 8 VCD Athletic 24-38 (+3), 9 Ramsgate 26-34 (+5), 10 Phoenix Sports 25-32 (-5).