Hastings United’s problems worsened with a dismal defeat at The Pilot Field last night (Monday).
The U’s slumped 2-0 at home to Corinthian-Casuals in Ryman Football League Division One South with both goals coming during the first nine minutes of the second half.
In the absence of influential duo Sam Adams and Ade Olorunda, United showed a worrying lack of quality and creative spark as they suffered a seventh loss in 11 matches since the turn of the year.
United had won just three league games at home all season and Casuals had only won three away at kick-off, and there was precious little goalmouth action during the first half on a chilly night.
The best chance fell to United striker Evan Archibald, who headed Taser Hassan’s cross wide from just outside the six yard box when he ought to have done better. Archibald also couldn’t direct a lunging effort on target at the far post from another Hassan centre.
At the other end, Jamie Byatt shot well wide from out on the left after getting to the ball before United goalkeeper Josh Pelling, who produced the only save of the half, albeit a very comfortable one, from a Dave Hodges shot just prior to the interval.
The game swung decisively in the visitors’ favour with that double blast early in the second half. Casuals opened the scoring in the 49th minute when Richard Rose failed to prevent Jeuvon Spencer driving across goal for half time substitute Max Austin to poke home.
Casuals doubled their advantage just five minutes later. United midfielder Kyle Holden was booked for conceding a free kick just outside the D, from which the ball was touched to the side for Byatt to drill a low left-foot shot into the corner of the net.
You couldn’t see United getting back into it thereafter and there were ironic cheers from the supporters behind the goal as away stopper Danny Bracken was finally called into action to gather Hassan’s long range shot in the 65th minute.
Tyrell Richardson-Brown wasted a reasonable opportunity five minutes later by slashing wide of the near post after a delightful piece of play to control Sam Cruttwell’s ball and beat his marker.
Archibald couldn’t get enough meat on his stooping header from a lovely cross by Tom O’Connor and a scramble following Hassan’s added time corner came to nothing, but Casuals had few problems in sealing their second win and clean sheet against United this season.
United: Pelling, Brinkhurst, R. Rose (Cruttwell 49), T. Olorunda, Ray, Hanifan, Richardson-Brown, Holden (Davis 62), Archibald, O’Connor (Willett 78), Hassan. Subs not used: Foster, D. Rose. Attendance: 220.
Standings (played-points): 1 Burgess Hill Town 31-81, 2 Faversham Town 35-74, 3 Merstham 35-70, 4 Folkestone Invicta 34-68, 5 Whyteleafe 35-57, 6 Worthing 35-56, 7 Herne Bay 36-52, 8 Whitstable Town 35-51, 9 Guernsey 34-49, 10 Three Bridges 34-49, 11 Chipstead 35-48, 12 Tooting & Mitcham United 35-45, 13 Carshalton Athletic 35-43, 14 South Park 30-42, 15 Sittingbourne 35-42, 16 Walton & Hersham 36-41, 17 Hythe Town 34-40, 18 Corinthian-Casuals 30-40, 19 Walton Casuals 34-37, 20 HASTINGS UNITED 36-36, 21 East Grinstead Town 35-34, 22 Redhill 32-32, 23 Ramsgate 35-31, 24 Horsham 36-30.