Hastings United’s footballers are teetering just above the relegation zone after a double dose of disappointment this afternoon (Saturday).
The U’s lost 3-2 away to South Park and fellow strugglers Ramsgate won 3-1 at home to Carshalton Athletic, which means that United are one point and one place above the three Ryman Football League Division One South relegation spots.
On their first ever trip to Reigate-based South Park, United were sunk by a hat-trick from Chris Smith, who also bagged a treble in the 3-3 draw between the two clubs at The Pilot Field during November.
Smith opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a tremendous 20-yard volley into the top corner. The same player made it 2-0 some 20 minutes later by stroking home Justin David’s low cross from the right.
United pulled one back in the 44th minute. Steve Brinkhurst’s right wing centre was turned into his own net by South Park captain Daniel Guscott.
Fraser Logan clipped the top of the crossbar as United made a bright start to the second half and they got back on terms in the 54th minute. Tyrell Richardson-Brown raced on to Marlon Patterson’s throughball and scored with a low shot which the goalkeeper got a hand to but couldn’t keeep out.
Although Olalekan Bankole hit the side-netting for United, it was South Park who won it in the 85th minute when that man Smith completed his hat-trick.
With two matches remaining, United’s fate is now out of their own hands. They will be keeping a close eye on Ramsgate’s game in hand at home to Guernsey on Tuesday night when a Ramsgate win would send United into the drop zone.
United: Pelling, Willett, Turner, Bankole (Cruttwell), Ray, Jirbandey, Brinkhurst, T. Olorunda (Holden), Richardson-Brown, Logan (Giles), Patterson. Subs not used: Hanifan, Foster. Attendance: 119.
Ryman Division One South bottom five (played 44 matches unless stated): 20 East Grinstead Town 45pts (-36 goal difference), 21 HASTINGS UNITED 44 (-14), 22 Ramsgate (43) 43 (-27), 23 Redhill 38 (-31), 24 Horsham 36 (-50).