Hythe Town 2-0 Hastings United - It's great to have that winning feeling back, says Tim Dixon

Thursday 01st January 2015

Ryman League Division One South
Thursday 1st January 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Reachfields Stadium

HYTHE TOWN boss Tim Dixon says he was pleased with the effort, enthusiasm and the work-rate from his players after winning this relegation dog-fight against Hastings United.

The Cannons, who went into the game without a win in five games, leapfrogged over Hastings United into nineteenth-place in the Ryman League Division One South table, after collecting their 29th point of the season.

Hythe Town are now seven points clear of the relegation zone, although they have played more games than the five clubs below them in the table.

Skipper James Morrish headed home his third goal of the season to send Hythe Town on their way, before Ryan Philpott came off the bench to seal the club’s fourth home league win of the season.

Hastings United are six points clear of the drop zone after going down to their 12
th league defeat of the season and could be playing Sussex County League football next season unless they pick up from today’s disappointing performance.

It proved to be the last game in charge for Dominic Di Paola, as the former East Preston manager quit after the game.

“Massive result for us today and thoroughly what we deserved,” Dixon said from inside the physio room after the game.

“I think we worked really hard, players going through the pain barrier to get through it.

“We’ve still got a few people out injured; Ashley Miller, Luke Harvey, Josh Burchell, Dan Eason and John Walker were all missing but people have given us a really good shift today, basically what we need to get out of this relegation zone and they showed me exactly that this afternoon.

“I think it was a tremendous performance from the first to the 94
th minute.”

Hastings United kicked-off and a clearance from Hythe keeper Roddy Hayward went straight to Ashley-Paul Robinson, who from 35-yards saw his right-footed shot graze the foot of the left-hand post of an empty net after only ten seconds.

Dixon said: “It was a clearance and Roddy was out of the goal and the lad should have done better with it!

“It would have been disastrous after ten seconds but other teams seem to be scoring goals from our mistakes.  They don’t seem to be making the goals themselves and that would have summed up our season so far, silly mistakes at the back.

“But we quickly turned it round and we were on the offensive after that and we had a couple of good chances ourselves.”

But Hythe Town swiftly eased their way onto the front foot.

Craig Thompson played a one-two with Sam Conlon down the right before clipping the ball into the box where Jack Sullivan skied his volley over from ten-yards – with 48 seconds on the clock.

The hard-working Thompson then cut into the penalty area from the left and cracked a fierce shot, which was parried away by Josh Pelling at his near post, before Hastings got men back to advert the danger.

Hastings United’s second chance fell to lone striker Ade Olorunda after 11 minutes.

Charlie Farmer played the ball out of defence hitting a fine diagonal pass to Evan Archibald, who skipped past Sullivan on the touch-line to cut inside to spread the ball inside to Olorunda, who held his head in his hands after seeing his shot drift past the right-hand post from eighteen-yards.

Pelling made his second save of the game when he parried Jack Sellens’ right-footed angled drive from 12-yards after the ball dropped kindly to him after Thompson chested the ball down following Lewis Mingle’s throw from the left.

Hythe Town deserved their 21
st minute lead.

Michael Yianni floated a right-footed free-kick into the penalty area from the right and Hastings defenders Steve Brinkhurst and Sean Ray left Morrish in acres of space on the corner of the six-yard box and the Hythe midfielder powered his free header across Pelling, sailing  into the top far corner.

“Really pleased with the goal, a great ball and a fantastic header from Mo. He gives you that with his late runs into the box,” said a pleased Dixon.

“First of all, it doesn’t happen if the delivery is not good and it was a first class delivery from Mike but Mo’s still got to put it in the net.

“It was a bullet header across the goal into the far corner – just a fantastic goal. A great finish and it gave us a little bit of confidence. 

“Sometimes though we’ve been throwing away 1-0 leads. We had a similar scenario at the beginning of the season. We were 1-0 up at half-time through a James Morrish header away at Faversham and we collapsed in the second half.”

Visiting keeper Pelling caught Laurence Harvey’s looping header from underneath the crossbar after the Hythe Town defender came up to meet Sellens’ floated corner in from the right.

Dixon praised keeper Hayward for thwarting Hastings United an equaliser in the 28
th minute.

Former Hythe Town winger Tasser Hassan was released down the right and his cross was cleared out to Olorunda, whose reverse pass played Robinson in but his right-footed shot from the edge of the six-yard box was blocked by the keeper’s legs at the near post.

“Roddy’s been doing that for us,” said Dixon.

“It’s a good job he’s been there, not only he’s saved penalties recently, he’s very good on one-on-one situations.  He made a couple of very important stops today, you can’t forget that as well, how important he was to our win.

“Their coach came off at the end and said how well he played. He put in another good performance and he deserved a clean sheet. He got his reward today. He’s done ever so well.”

Hythe Town produced a sweeping move, on a difficult sticky playing surface and in windy conditions.

Phil Stevenson clipped the ball out of defence and Thompson and Morrish linked up to play the ball out to Sullivan on the right.  Thompson trudged into the penalty area and met the cross with a looping header, which was caught by the Hastings keeper.

The Kent side went close to increasing their lead inside the final five minutes of the half.

Sullivan played the ball inside to Yianni on the right who found Conlon, who played a clever pass back to Yianni, who drilled his right-footed drive towards the near corner from 25-yards, which stung Pelling’s fingers, the keeper gathering the ball at the second attempt.

“Yes, that was a good shot,” said Dixon.

“Again, good build-up and Mike found himself in some space and whizzed in a shot. The keeper had a couple of them to save.  He’s getting into some good positions. Mike’s got that in his locker and he can pick up the ball 30-yards out and he’s already scored a couple of goals against Whitstable and Carshalton when he’s banged them in the top corner and what’s what he’s all about.  Just unfortunately it was straight down the goalkeeper’s neck on that occasion.”

Tom Vickers delivered a free-kick into the Hythe penalty area which saw Archibald cut the ball back for Hassan to drill his shot high over the bar from 25-yards.

Reflecting on the first half, the Hythe Town boss said: “Something that we’ve talked about, we’ve got to start both halves a little bit better. I was pleased with the way we started. We had a couple of good chances really.

“The important thing is second half we had to make sure we put in an equally good performance as we did first and you saw for yourself that’s what happened.

“We knew it’ll be a battle. They’re down there near us, even though they’ve played a few games less but no-one wants to be down that bottom five or six. It’s dangerous. 

“That first half performance with that effort and enthusiasm would mean nothing at all if we didn’t replicate it second half and thankfully the lads went out second half and they battled for everything.”

Hythe Town rolled their sleeves up and dug in during the second half.

But Hastings United should have been level in the 53
rd minute when Vickers played a sublime through ball to put Archibald through on goal but Hayward made a smart save and the Hastings attacker stabbed the rebound past the foot of the right-hand post.

Robinson rose to plant a towering header over Hayward’s crossbar from eight-yards after Vickers swung in a corner from the right.

But Hythe Town squandered an excellent chance to kill the game off as early as the 58
th minute.

Yianni whipped in a cross from the right and Thompson’s header sailed towards the far post but Morrish helped the ball wide with a header from a couple of yards out.

“That was a great chance, unfortunately he was just under the ball and that would have been a great goal at an important time of the game,” added Dixon.

Sullivan, who ventured forward at every opportunity, over-hit a crossfield pass which was retrieved by Mingle on the other side of the pitch.  The left-back played the ball to Morrish, who teed up Sellens, who poked his shot towards goal, which forced Pelling to make a low save to his left.

Dixon added: “Jack Sellens’ got himself in a good position. 

“We got a couple of times outside on the edge of the box and we didn’t get our shots away and a couple of crosses coming in from the right from Jack Sullivan and Sam Conlon, really not enough on them really.”

Hastings United brought on nine-goal striker Kenny Pogue and he was denied by a brave Hayward save in the 62
nd minute.

Vickers’ swung in a corner from the left and Pogue drilled his shot into Hayward’s chest, the keeper making himself big at the near post.

Hythe Town substitute Jordan Wells cracked a right-footed drive from 35-yards, which flew straight into Pelling’s gloves, before the game turned into a midfield scrap.

Conlon’s reverse pass was pounced on by Thompson, but Pelling came off his line to deflect his shot around the post with ten minutes left.

Hastings United then created a couple of chances to salvage a point.

Robinson went close when he curled his right-footed shot narrowly around the foot of the far post from 25-yards.

Sean Ray then played the ball out of defence straight through the heart towards Olorunda, who slipped the ball through to Pogue, who hit a first time shot straight at Hayward from 20-yards, much to Dixon’s disgust.

He said: “They’ve given it a bit of a go in the end. I wasn’t very happy with the one lad who found himself with acres of space and he should have done better with his shot.

“You have to be switched on for 90 plus minutes these days.  We gave him just too much space and we just lost our shape for a little while.”

But Hythe Town sealed a morale-boosting victory with two minutes left.

Sellens, 18, who is on loan from League One Gillingham, chased a lost cause and put Pelling under pressure, stole the ball off the keeper to cut the ball back for Philpott to sweep his first time curler into the far corner of an empty net from 15-yards.

“Jack Sellens made the second goal,” praised Dixon.

“He worked ever so well. He nicked it off the keeper and played it to Ryan who put it in to the far corner and that was a great goal because Jack never gave it up. 

“That late in the game, to not give up a ball like that says volumes for him. He comes from a professional background and that’s what you expect from him a young lad trying to make his way in the game.

“He never stopped running for the whole of the duration of the game and he got us that second goal. He made it himself really.

“It was a great finish. Ryan still had to put it in the net. What I’m saying is it wouldn’t have happened if Jack didn’t close down the goalkeeper. He made a bad ball into a good one and we got our little comfort zone at the end because of that extra goal makes all the difference.

“One-nil would always be dicey and Worthing equalised (against us) in the 94
th minute and you could see the same happening again because that’s the way it’s been going with us this year, but thankfully we held on for the three points and a well-deserved three points at that.”

Hythe Town have now scored 45 goals – and conceded 45 goals – in 28 league games this season and have eighteen league games remaining to ensure that they’re playing Ryman League football again next season.

“It was positive and that’s the way we want to be. We don’t want to be too negative,” said Dixon.

“There’s a lot said about us about not scoring enough goals but there’s plenty of goals in this team.

“When results are going against you, sometimes your confidence takes a whack and the lads today were playing with confidence. They were passing well, not afraid to try things and it’s great to get in the dressing room afterwards and have that winning feeling back.

“We’ve had plenty of draws (six) at home this year, which don’t get you anywhere. We haven’t had enough wins and three points on the board and that’s the most important thing.

“Hopefully we’ll build-up a bit of momentum in 2015 and push further up the table.”

Dixon takes his side to fifteenth-placed Corinthian-Casuals (34 points from 26 games) on Saturday.

“It comes round quick this time of the year,” admitted Dixon.

“We’ve got a small squad anyway and we’ll have to asses everyone tomorrow night and see how everyone is and go from there.

“It’s another tough game, an away game. Normally a good pitch up at Corinthian.  They’re having a funny old season, they’re either hit or miss. Let’s hope they’re miss on Saturday and we can build our winning momentum and philosophy going forward.”

Dixon admits playing twice in a short space of time is harsh on semi-professional footballers, who hold down full-time jobs.

“Yes it seems the semi-pros are having it more difficult than the pros now but (we’re playing in front of) good holiday crowds.  The revenue at this level is massive.  There was a good crowd at Folkestone on Boxing Day and it’s good for their club and we were hoping for 300 plus today and (we had) two more men or women over 300.

“Hopefully they’ll walk away today a little bit more happier with a little win under their belts because we haven’t given the supporters much to cheer about this year.  I think they can see the lads are really giving maximum effort.”

Hastings United issued the following statement on their website following the game:

“The club regrets to announce that Dominic Di Paola has resigned from his role as first team boss at the Pilot Field, shortly after the U's began the New Year with a disappointing 2-0 defeat away to fellow Division One South strugglers Hythe Town.

“The former East Preston manager was appointed in October, the unanimous choice of a selection panel tasked with selecting a replacement for Terry White, who stepped down after an indifferent start to a campaign in which promotion was United's clear objective.

“Di Paola and his three man backroom team of Jan Miller, Ian Browne and Adam Westwood experienced back to back wins against Guernsey and East Grinstead Town in his first two games at the helm, but oversaw just three more victories in fourteen subsequent fixtures, despite employing a wide number of players and tactical formations in a constant battle to establish some consistency.

“This afternoon's reverse at Reachfields left the U's in twentieth position in the league table and heralded Di Paola's decision to bring his unfortunately brief tenure to a conclusion.

“The club would like to thank him and his team for their efforts and wish them all well in their future endeavours.

“Mark Stapley and John Masters will kindly be looking after first team affairs when still unbeaten title favourites Burgess Hill Town visit the Pilot Field on Saturday, and the club will make further announcements in due course.”

Hythe Town: Roddy Hayward, Jack Sullivan, Lewis Mingle, Jamie Collado (Jordan Wells 64), Phil Stevenson, Laurence Harvey, Sam Conlon, James Morrish, Craig Thompson (Ryan Philpott 86), Michael Yianni, Jack Sellens.
Subs: Dave Pilcher, Harry Carr, Henry Fulcher

Goals: James Morrish 21, Ryan Philpott 88

Booked: Craig Thompson 43, Laurence Harvey 45, James Morrish 70, Jordan Wells 74

Hastings United: Josh Pelling, Steve Brinkhurst, Richard Rose, Tom Vickers, Sean Ray, Charlie Farmer, Tasser Hassan (Kenny Pogue 57), Sam Adams, Ade Olorunda, Ashley-Paul Robinson, Evan Archibald.
Subs: Zac McEniry, Kevin Keehan

Booked: Ade Olorunda 87

Attendance: 302
Referee: Mr Michael Lowe (Reigate, Surrey)
Assistants: Mr Theo Parfitt (Heathfield, East Sussex) & Mr Michael Barnes (Heathfield, East Sussex)