Isthmian League Division One South
Pilot Field, Hastings
Match Rating: 3
Following my morning game at Little Common, I headed eastwards to visit another venue that I have visited many times over the years, taking advantage of reduced admission from the usual rather steep price of £10.00 for Step 4 football.
The Pilot Field remains a very nice place to watch this level of football at, with its large main stand towering over the pitch along one length, tea bar and clubhouse either side of the entrance and a tall covered terrace beside the clubhouse, and a small standing covering a couple of terrace steps behind the other goal. Hard standing is available along the remaining length, with a large grass bank behind. A detraction of the ground remains that spectators are fairly distant from the action, a remnant of having a speedway track back in the 1950's. The pitch was in remarkably good condition considering the club groundsman tweeted pictures of several large puddles on the pitch first thing this morning. The 58 page programme was attractively laid out and covered all the basics with some interesting reading material, but was rather heavy on advertising, 27 pages worth to be precise.
This match would be between two teams possibly heading in different directions out of this league next month. Hastings came into this game in sixth place, with 22 wins and four draws from their 40 games, but were five points adrift of Worthing in the final play-off berth in fifth. After relegation from the Premier Division last season, Peacehaven look certainties for relegation this season, after having their budget slashed. They have picked up just one point from their last 18 games, since their last win in late November. Overall, they were second bottom of the 24 team division, with six wins and six draws from their 41 league games. When today's teams met in the reverse fixture in January, Hastings won 0-4.
On an afternoon which had become sunny and the wind had reduced in intensity but remained a stiff gusty breeze, in the opening stages, Peacehaven did not actually look too bad in midfield, but looked impotent in the final and a disaster waiting to happen defensively. On 14 minutes, Hastings took the lead when the ball was crossed high into the box and Billy Medlock sent the ball looping past the keeper and into the net with his head. One felt that had already decided the destiny of the three points, and they came close to extending their lead on several occasions until they finally did on 40 minutes. Jack McLean ran onto a through ball and after tapping the ball to the side of the keeper, his shot from an angle came back off the post, rebounding to the feet of Medlock, who had the simple task of driving the ball into the net from a central position. Hastings made it three a minute before the break when Medlock ran onto the ball, rounded the keeper before passing the ball into the net from a slight angle to complete his hat-trick.
Despite having the game as good as won at half time, Hastings started the second half full of attacking intent, but their fourth goal did not come until the 54th minute. Sam Cole crossed the ball high over the goal, and Medlock volleyed the ball into the net at the far post. Medlock almost hit his and his team's fifth on 57 minutes, but saw his header come back off the crossbar, and then Peacehaven actually had their best spell of the match, forcing a couple of smart saves from the Hastings keeper and saw a free kick skim the top of the crossbar. Hastings scored their fifth on 83 minutes, when the ball was looped across the six yard box and above the keeper, and Medlock has the simple task of heading the ball in from close range. Medlock almost scored his and his team's sixth on 89 minutes, but his shot flashed across the goal from a very tight angle. Two minutes into added on time, Hastings completed the rout with their sixth, this time not scored by Medlock, as substitute Bright Temba ran onto a ball over the top and slotted it under the keeper.
So, a simple, straightforward victory for Hastings which pulls them to within 2 points of fifth place Worthing with five games remaining. No doubt Billy Medlock was the star man today with five goals today, making it 25 for the season. As for Peacehaven, they really looked a poor team at both ends of the pitch and will probably benefit from a spell back in the Southern Combination League next term.
Video highlights of this match can be found by clicking here.