Hastings United (2) 3 – 0 (0) Hythe Town
United skipper Sam Adams celebrated his 600th appearance for the Club in fine style, scoring twice
in the first half, as the U’s eased to a comfortable victory at home to struggling Hythe and retained
their six point advantage at the top of the South-East Division table.
The result scarcely looked in doubt once Adams had given the U’s an eleventh minute advantage in
front of another four figure Pilot Field attendance, and career goal number 148 was tucked home
from the penalty spot five minutes before half time. Jack Dixon added a third goal just past the hour
mark, and United were able to cruise to all three points without ever seeming to get out of second
Ben Pope should have given the hosts the perfect start inside the opening forty seconds, running
clear onto Craig Stone’s long ball, only to stab a volley wide. Tom Chalmers then forced keeper
Henry Newcombe into a smart save, while James Hull also went close from a corner, before Adams
broke the deadlock, steering a left foot shot past Newcombe from the edge of the area after some
good work from Pope to find him in space.
The U’s continued to dominate proceedings and further chances came and went, Hull going closest
with an acrobatic effort that Scott Doe blocked on the line with his chest. But the lead was finally
doubled in vaguely controversial circumstances, Newcombe claiming a through ball ahead of Pope,
with the striker then colliding with the keeper and going down heavily.
Although seemingly not interested in the U’s claims of foul play at first, the referee then consulted
with his assistant and decided to award a penalty and to caution Newcombe. Adams confidently sent
the keeper the wrong way from the spot, and went close to a fairytale hat-trick moments later, with
Stone firing over with the last chance of a one-sided first half.
The second period was little more than processional, especially after Hull’s low cross was tapped in
by Dixon to extend United’s lead to three in the 62nd minute. By then, Kenny Pogue had replaced
the ailing Pope, while Sam Hasler and Kane Penn also made appearances off the bench in the latter
stages, as the pace slowed to something resembling a pedestrian practise match at times.
Hythe did their best to play a neat passing game, but they sorely lacked a cutting edge in attack, and
the U’s three man back line looked every bit as commanding as they had at Ashford last week. The
visitors did go close to a first half equaliser when Tom Walmsley headed narrowly wide from a free
kick, but that aside, they were restricted to occasional long range efforts, and United keeper Louis
Rogers was able to enjoy a quiet afternoon on his way to a ninth clean sheet in thirteen games.
On an afternoon when three of the U’s main promotion rivals lost, the destiny of the league title is
still firmly in the hands of Gary Elphick’s charges, with Cray Valley now their closest challengers in
second place. United will be hoping for more of the same when they visit mid-table Sittingbourne
Hastings United: 1 Louis Rogers, 3 Ryan Worrall, 4 Finn O’Mara, 5 Craig Stone, 6 Tom Chalmers, 7
James Hull, 8 Jack Dixon, 9 Ben Pope, 10 Sam Adams, 12 Marcus Goldsmith, 17 Tommy Cooney.
Subs: 11 Sam Hasler (for Dixon 67), 14 Kenny Pogue (for Pope 51), 16 Kane Penn (for Adams 77), 18
Knory Scott, 19 Dave Martin.
Booked: Dixon 31.
Hythe Town: 1 Henry Newcombe, 2 Liam Smith, 3 George Sibley, 4 James Rogers, 5 Scott Doe, 6
Connor Cheek, 7 Riley Alford, 8 Alex Brown, 9 Tom Walmsley, 10 Jacob Gilbert, 11 Luca Woodhouse.
Subs: 12 Jordan Sarfo (for Alford 59), 14 George Crimmen, 15 Jack Nelson (for Walmsley 72), 16 Tyler
Sterling (for Woodhouse 59).
Booked: Cheek 31, Newcombe 38.
Generously Posted Anonymously to Hastings United