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Hastings Town 1-0 Pilgrims

Dr Martens League

Match Report by Gary Houghton

United's long haul to the south coast proved fruitless as they slumped to only their second defeat under manager Steve Evans. This was the Pilgrim's first, and probably last, visit to Hastings Town's small 'pilot field' ground. Hastings having withdrawn from the Dr Martens League at the end of this season and hoping to get a place in the Ryman League.

The game took place on a very heavy and uneven pitch, and, in front of a sparse crowd and only a handful of Pilgrims' supporters, United failed to master the conditions. Early in the first half, United had half-chances through Carmichael, Curtis and Stringfellow, but none of these forced the Hastings keeper to make a save. On 25 mins, Steve Evans got his, now customary, talking to by the ref, and immediately Bastock had to make his first save, a long range effort which he took comfortably low down to his right. On 35 mins Bastock raced from his area to make a clearance but, having failed to reach the ball before the Hastings's attacker, succeeded in bringing him down and was lucky to escape with only a yellow. 5 mins later United had their best chance so far as Mason's cross from the left fell to an unmarked Stanhope on the right of the box but his low driven 'cross-cum-shot' failed to get the necessary touch. On the stroke of half-time, Stanhope cut in from the right on the edge of the box and, when reaching the centre of the goal, scuffed a low shot which the keeper would have had no problems saving, but Carmichael managed to deflect it towards the opposite side of the goal and with the keeper now stranded the ball rolled agonisingly wide.

United's main hope of scoring had to be to get Stanhope and Mason down the flanks and behind the packed Hastings defence, but getting the ball out to them was proving difficult as passes were going astray on the bumpy muddy pitch.

The second half saw few chances at either end as the heavy going took it's toll. On 60 mins Hardy replaced the carried-off Clyde and 10 mins later Watts replaced the ineffective Venables, with Jelleyman replacing an injured Mason. In the last 20 mins Hastings had the better openings but failed to trouble Bastock. Hardy was booked after a scuffle on the edge of the United box and the game looked to be ending in deadlock.

On 85 mins Bastock made a clearance under no apparent pressure but the ball fell straight to the Hastings forwards who played PLAYFORD in to snatch the winner with a low shot to Bastock's right.

Overall a below par United performance that could have gained a point, but if there had to be a winner Hastings just about deserved it, as United failed to make the Hastings keeper make a single save during the whole 90 mins.

United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Len Curtis, 4. Ian Stringfellow, 5. Darren Clyde, 6.Steve Charles, 7. Andrew Stanhope, 8. Gary Childs, 9. Matt Carmichael, 10. Dave Venables, 11. Richard Mason, 12. Gareth Jelleyman (Mason 70 mins), 14. Paul Watts (Venables 70 mins), 15. Martin Hardy (Clyde 60 mins).