A goal in either half from influential duo Tom Vickers and Kenny Pogue gave United a fully deserved victory to boost their hopes of securing a Ryman Football League Division One South play-off spot.
United welcomed back Vickers from injury, but Tim Olorunda and Frankie Sawyer were still sidelined. The U’s also gave a first start to midfielder Nathan Ferguson, who is on work experience from Dagenham & Redbridge.
The game got off to a lively start with both teams having two decent chances in the first 11 minutes. A mistake by United centre-half Charlie Bachellier gifted an opportunity to Allan Tait, but his shot lacked power and was comfortably saved by Josh Pelling.
At the other end, Trevor McCreadie shot wide of the near post from Pogue’s low cross from the right before doing the same from Pogue’s left wing centre moments later. Matt Daniel then lifted an effort over United’s crossbar from Tony Garrod’s volleyed cross.
Sam Adams had a free kick parried by Bridges goalkeeper Martin Grant before United opened the scoring in the 18th minute. A nice flick by McCreadie played in Vickers, who buried a low left-foot shot across Grant into the far corner.
McCreadie had his third very presentable opening in the 26th minute, but poked just over after again being teed up by Pogue. Bridges ended the first half fairly well with Lee Carney side-footing fractionally wide from inside the D, Pelling denying Tait and Mark Pulling seeing a chip from the edge of the box float just over.
Vickers had a powerful 25-yard drive well saved by Grant low to his left in first half added time and United doubled their advantage less than two minutes into the second period. Pogue got the better of Grant and stabbed the ball home despite the efforts of a covering defender to get a last ditch tackle in.
McCreadie’s looping header from a Sam Adams cross was claimed by Grant just under his crossbar and a low left-foot shot by Pogue was fairly comfortably saved. Grant then fumbled a 30-yard piledriver by Adams against a post before making a point blank save from McCreadie following Pogue’s low cross.
With United looking in complete command, Bridges pulled one back out of nowhere in the 70th minute. Home substitute Elliott Romain got away down the right and delivered a dangerous low cross which Adams turned into his own net.
The home side didn’t create a chance thereafter, though, and United fashioned a couple more opportunities of their own. Pogue headed just over from Jordan Woodley’s right wing free kick and Vickers forced a fine tip over from Grant with a good run and fierce shot.
United: Pelling, Adams, Cruttwell, Darby, Judge, Bachellier, Hassan (Woodley 76), Ferguson (Ellis 62), McCreadie, Pogue, Vickers (Toney 89). Subs not used: O’Connor, Oyinsan.
Ryman Division One South top six (played-points): 1 Peacehaven & Telscombe 41-98 (champions), 2 Leatherhead 42-85, 3 Folkestone Invicta 40-73, 4 Guernsey 41-73, 5 HASTINGS UNITED 40-73, 6 Merstham 41-70.