Saturday, March 31, 2012
Two goals in eleven second half minutes from the ever-reliable striker Paul Vines earned Carshalton Athletic all three points, as United produced a lacklustre display against one of their fellow relegation candidates at Colston Avenue this afternoon.
A third defeat in four games has seen the U's dragged back into the battle to avoid finishing in nineteenth place, when a decent run of results through February and into early March had enabled them to put clear daylight between themselves and Harrow and Leatherhead, who are now just three points behind once again.
Against a Robins team with a truly dismal home record, United were seeking the victory that would have seen them swap places with the Surrey side, but the outcome had a sense of inevitability about it, even though the hosts initially appeared intent on spurning the simplest of chances, skipper David Ray and winger Craig Tanner both missing the target with close range headers in the first half, before Ola Sogbanmu fluffed another glorious opportunity, the striker at least able to apportion the blame on one of the poorest playing surfaces that United have seen all season.
Not that the state of the pitch should excuse the U's own shortcomings. After a bright start, when the recalled Ross Sutton and Nick Gonsalves combined for the latter to head wide of Nick Hamann's goal, and Lee Carey sent a bobbling effort just wide, Sean Ray's side faded badly, although Danny Ellis did bring the best out of Hamann with a fine attempt shortly before the interval.
Matt Armstrong-Ford was perhaps a shade fortunate to escape with only a yellow card after colliding with the onrushing Billy Crook just outside his area early in the second period, but the presence of a rapidly retreating Josh Jirbandey may have been enough to convince the referee that a clear goalscoring opportunity had not necessarily been denied.
Jirbandey's next intervention was at the other end, where he nodded a Zac Attwood cross past Hamann and into the top corner, only for his celebrations to be quickly cut short by an offside flag. That was just about the last threat on the home goal however, as Vines finally showed his more profligate team-mates how to finish with a brace in the final quarter.
Even he needed a sighter mind you, racing clear onto Ray's through ball, but dithering over his shot long enough for Jamie Crellin to get in an excellent recovery tackle. He was more clinical when presented with his next chance though, as Hamann's long free kick was helped into his path by Sogbanmu, with Vines leaving Armstrong-Ford motionless as he fired low into the corner.
And when Sogbanmu found space down the left hand side of United's area eleven minutes later, his cross picked out Vines for another calm finish that effectively ended the game as a contest.
United were given a glimmer of hope with four minutes remaining, when Carshalton substitute Laurent Hamici earned himself a straight red card for an act of worthless aggression, kicking out and then stamping on defender Scott Manning.
The Robins scarcely seemed to notice their numerical disadvantage though, and they controlled the closing moments as well as they had much of the game, with Vines wasting a fine opportunity to complete a hat-trick in added time, and only a tame Bailo Camara header coming close to denying Hamann a clean sheet on his 100th Carshalton appearance.
With Leatherhead having won their last two matches, and yet to play Horsham at home, the U's have chosen precisely the wrong time to let their own performances drift. They will be hoping that their hitherto impressive Tuesday evening form returns for the visit of Wealdstone this week, but the potentially vital encounter at home to Harrow is looming very large now that April is upon us.
|Carshalton Athletic||(0) 2||-||0 (0)||Hastings United|
|Vines 68, 79|
|Match facts||Efforts on target||Efforts off target||Free kicks conceded||Corners|
|Carshalton Athletic (4-4-2)||Hastings United (4-4-2)|
|1 Nick Hamann||1 Matt Armstrong-Ford|
|2 Luke Nolan||2 Jack Dixon|
|3 Ricardo Joseph||3 Ross Sutton|
|4 Kennedy Adjei||4 Lee Carey|
|5 Dawayne Campbell||5 Scott Manning|
|6 Justyn Roberts||6 Josh Jirbandey (c)|
|7 David Ray (c)||7 Danny Ellis|
|8 Billy Crook||8 Jamie Crellin|
|9 Paul Vines||9 Nick Gonsalves|
|10 Ola Sogbanmu||10 Zac Attwood|
|11 Craig Tanner||11 Bailo Camara|
|12 Laurent Hamici (for Sogbanmu 80)||12 Sean Ray|
|14 Michael Kamara (for Adjei 76)||14 Matt Whitehead|
|15 Merrick James-Lewis (for Tanner 87)||15 Bradley Goldberg (for Gonsalves 73)|
|16 Anthony Joseph||16 Joe Barham (for Sutton 87)|
|GK Luke Badialli|
Referee: Carl Fitch (Ipswich)
Assistants: Craig Pullen & Mateusz Filipak