First league points for Elphick

Three Bridges 1, Hastings United 2

Newly appointed Hastings manager Gary Elphick saw his side claim a first three-point haul under his guidance last Saturday with this win at Three Bridges. The scoreline doesn’t reveal, however, that the home side had to play for 78 of the 90 minutes with only ten men after their early scorer Noel Leighton was sent off for a bad challenge on United’s Tom Chalmers. It took the ‘U’s until almost halftime to equalise through a low shot from Jack Dixon, and Ben Pope’s winner – a header from Dave Martin’s corner – came just ten minutes from the end.

The result took Hastings back to sixth in the league table with a couple of games in hand over most of the teams above them. But it wasn’t a performance that suggests that they have fully recovered their early season confidence.

A week earlier, Elphick’s first game in charge had pitted his team against league leaders Cray Valley. The visitors’ second half opener was cancelled out by a Dixon header, and the game seemed destined for a 1-1 draw until the sixth minute of added time. United felt that defender Ollie Black was fouled in a tussle with an opponent, but play was allowed to continue, and goalkeeper Louis Rogers couldn’t keep out the resulting strike. Sam Adams was given a red card for dissent in the aftermath.

Further league matches are coming thick and fast. Hastings will have been in further league action at home to Sittingbourne on Tuesday, play away at Haywards Heath Town tomorrow (Saturday), then face two more games next week – home to Chichester City on the Tuesday and away at East Grinstead the following Saturday. By the end of that sequence Elphick should feel well bedded in to his managerial role.

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