Tuesday, November 22, 2011
After two decent home performances that had yielded no reward, United succeeded in producing a result to match perhaps their best display of the season at the usually far from happy hunting ground of Canvey Island's Park Lane this evening. The U's had to do things the hard way mind you, fighting back from a half time deficit, before deservedly claiming a winner with just a couple of minutes remaining, when Zac Attwood scored his sixth goal in eleven games since rejoining the Club.
They also had to overcome the effects of an arduous journey to Essex, the heavy traffic meaning that the last United player only arrived half an hour before the scheduled kick off time. As it was, player/boss Sean Ray was able to name a squad of just fourteen, with striker Kenny Pogue, like Ray himself, missing out through injury. Matt Whitehead started in place of Ross Sutton at left back, while Joe Barham was also handed a full league debut in a now familiar three man attack. New arrival Nick Gonsalves, a midfielder signed from Metropoltan Police, was named amongst the subs.
A tough pre-match build-up would have been quickly forgotten had Scott Manning not headed Jordan Woodley's free kick over the bar from near point blank range inside four minutes. That moment encapsulated much of the opening half an hour, with United doing most of the pressing, but failing to test Canvey keeper James Russell.
The contest continued to be played at a frenetic pace, but when the opening goal came, it arrived in highly unfortunate circumstances from United's point of view, a routine clearance by skipper Josh Jirbandey hitting Manning in the back and trickling past the helpless Lloyd Anderson in the thirty-third minute. The home side briefly threatened to take charge, but United rallied well, and could frankly have been out of sight by the interval, with Barham three times, Attwood and Woodley all going close, before Lee Carey's free kick eventually brought a fine save out of Russell.
The second half began with a strong penalty shout for the Islanders, as Attwood tangled with full back Andrew West just inside the area. United survived that scare though, and drew level within a couple of minutes, as Carey's left wing cross was diverted past Russell by his own centre back Steve Sheehan. The defender nearly presented the U's with another goal with a poor backpass, which was intercepted by Attwood, who got in a goalbound effort from the narrowest of angles that home captain John Easterford cleared off his own line.
Barham's impressive effort ended when he gave way for Gonsalves to make his debut, and the newcomer would play a part in United's well deserved eighty-eighth minute decisive strike, his pass giving Attwood the chance to create enough space for an eighteen yard shot that beat the statuesque Russell.
It sealed three valuable points for the U's, which took them seven clear of the relegation zone, and within seven of their vanquished hosts, whose own play-off credentials have been blighted by inconsistency so far this season. And United have a chance to hit mid-table at the weekend, when they visit Tooting & Mitcham, one of only four league games taking place on FA Trophy third qualifying round day.
|Canvey Island||(1) 1||-||2 (0)||Hastings United|
|Manning og 33||Sheehan og 53|
|Match facts||Efforts on target||Efforts off target||Free kicks conceded||Corners|
|Canvey Island (4-5-1)||Hastings United (4-3-3)|
|1 James Russell||1 Lloyd Anderson|
|2 Andrew West||2 Jack Dixon|
|3 Ashley Dumas||3 Matt Whitehead|
|4 Rob King||4 Lee Carey|
|5 Steve Sheehan||5 Scott Manning|
|6 John Easterford (c)||6 Josh Jirbandey (c)|
|7 Danny Spendlove||7 Jamie Crellin|
|8 Danny Kerrigan||8 Ryan Thomson|
|9 Jason Hallett||9 Joe Barham|
|10 Jay Curran||10 Zac Attwood|
|11 Alex Rhodes||11 Jordan Woodley|
|12 Danny Heale (for Spendlove 70)||12 Ross Sutton|
|14 Leon Gordon (for Curran 87)||14 Nick Gonsalves (for Barham 67)|
|15 Michael Alaile||GK Matt Armstrong-Ford|
|16 Kyle Asante (for Hallett 70)|
|17 Steve Ward|
Referee: Tony Goddard (Dagenham)
Assistants: Grant Gray (Hatfield) & Mike Chisholm (Goffs Oak)