Hastings United’s footballers moved back into the play-off places via a narrow away victory tonight (Tuesday).
A first half Billy Medlock goal gave United a 1-0 win against East Grinstead Town which moved them up to the final play-off spot of fifth in Ryman Football League Division One South.
Sixth-placed Faversham Town only trail United on goal difference, however, and have a game in hand. In fact, only four points cover Worthing in fourth and Molesey in eighth so it’s very much all to play for over the remaining three or four matches.
United welcomed back Medlock and Simon Johnson from suspension, while Jerome Smith replaced the unavailable Sean Ray in defence. Kevant Serbony was promoted to the starting line-up, with Jack McLean, Tyrell Richardson-Brown and Sam Cruttwell dropping to the bench.
There was little action of note in the opening quarter-of-an-hour before Medlock fired wide from a free kick. United’s leading scorer then popped up with the winner in the 25th minute, lifting a measured finish over goalkeeper Jack Howard after Smith’s ball forward was helped on by Serbony.
Medlock was denied a second goal by a crucial tackle from James Fitchett as he sought to get on the end of Chris Cumming-Bart’s cross, while Serbony was booked for a challenge which resulted in Grinstead player Leo Mazzone being stretchered off.
Fourth-bottom Grinstead had their first attempt at goal early in the second period before United substitute Sam Cruttwell saw an effort blocked by Howard and fellow midfielder Sam Adams flashed a low shot just wide.
United goalkeeper Joe Taylor made a crucial save with his legs to deny former U’s forward Trevor McCreadie as Grinstead got on top. Medlock then had to effect a goal-line clearance to preserve the narrow advantage after Taylor was beaten to a free kick by Fitchett.
Howard thwarted Sam Cole at the other end moments later as United did just enough to clinch a crucial victory. Garry Wilson’s side has three games to go, starting with a home fixture against eighth-placed Molesey on Saturday.
United: Taylor, Davies, Wilson, Johnson, Smith, Rowe, Medlock, Adams, Cole, Cumming-Bart (Cruttwell), Serbony (Richardson-Brown). Subs not used: Attwood, McLean, Temba. Attendance: 128.
Ryman Division One South top eight (played 43 matches unless stated): 1 Folkestone Invicta 105pts, 2 Dorking Wanderers (42) 84, 3 Hythe Town 81, 4 Worthing (42) 78, 5 HASTINGS UNITED 77, 6 Faversham Town (42) 77, 7 Corinthian-Casuals 76, 8 Molesey 74.
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