Town Clinch Playoff Place

Hastings United 0 Enfield Town 3

Report by Andrew Warshaw

Huge congratulations to playing staff and management alike as we’re now mathematically over the line.

Despite a severely depleted squad, Enfield Town clinched their playoff place with a collective display that may not have been as emphatic as the scoreline suggests but which Gavin Macpherson reckoned was the best win of the season given the unfamiliar formation and quality of opposition.

Town can now finish no lower than fourth with two fixtures remaining as we extended our unbeaten league run to 13 games.

With a makeshift back line – Taylor Mackenzie the latest casualty after failing a late fitness tests and Joe Payne playing on the left of a three — the plan of trying to stay in the game and then go for the points worked a treat as we held on to third spot and in the process extinguished any lingering playoff hopes Hastings might have had.

Watched by a staggering 2000-plus crowd for their last home game of the season, the U’s had the better of the first half, using both flanks to good effect, notably John Ufuah with his pace and  whipped-in crosses.

Town’s case was helped by Hastings leader scorer Davide Rodari only making the bench because of a hamstring problem. Nevertheless, the hosts started brightly and thought they had scored when Tommie Fagg shot against the post, only to see his follow-up ruled out for offside.

The offside flag was then raised at the other end when Jake Cass played in Marcus Wyllie with a sight of goal but most of the opening half was pretty ordinary as a spectacle, Town digging in and  Hastings, for all their domination of the ball, guilty of poor execution – the story of their season.

It could be argued, however, that we had the best chance of the half when Marcus, out of nothing, flashed a shot inches wide.

Right on halftime, Rhys Forster, who had one of his most accomplished handling displays, pushed Finlay Chapman’s effort to safety, then saw another effort drilled over.

H-T 0-0

Whatever Gavin said at halftime, we came out far less cautious. Lewis Taaffe and Dylan Adjei-Hersey switched flanks and after the former had tested Charlie Grainger in the Hastings goal, we went in front on 51 minutes.

Jake Cass pounced on a shocking error by the teenage Chapman and finished poacher-style with his left foot to boot – no pun intended.

Town then had a major stroke of good fortune when awarded a dubious penalty for handball, Sam Youngs stroking home confidently from the spot after the ball appeared to strike a chest instead.

Cue Hastings manager Chris Agutter being dismissed after an altercation with the referee, leaving a huge hole in a plastic dustbin as he stormed off angrily .

The stuffing was now truly taken out of Hastings and Youngs almost converted a Cass knockdown.

The one downside was the ominous sight of Adjei-Hersey leaving the field with blood streaming from an apparent broken nose and taken to hospital which certainly doesn’t augur well for the campaign climax.

But by now we were well in the ascendancy and in stoppage time a Payne freekick was only parried and Taaffe knocked in the rebound.

There was still time in eight minutes of added time for substitute Reece Beckles-Richards to find the side netting and for Hastings to have a consolation goal ruled out for a foul on Forster.

Next stop Whitehawk as we battle it out with Horsham for third place and, potentially, with Chatham for second.

“It’s our best result of the season without a shadow of a doubt because we’ve had to shuffle and put a few square pegs in round holes” said Gavin.

“We had to evolve as we went along in order to get a foothold. I remember thinking in the first half that it wasn’t going to be a very good watch for our fans. But going gung-ho against a very good footballing side could have got us picked off, especially with players out of position.”

“We knew we’d spend time without the ball but I told them at halftime the chances would come. As it stands we have a home draw but there is still work to do to secure that.  That shouldn’t detract from what these players have done this season. We shouldn’t take for granted the hard work they’ve put in but they also realise it’s now a case of re-programming and preparing for Whitehawk.”


Forster; Taaffe, Okotcha, Tanner, Payne, Adjei-Hersey (Hippolyte 84); Thomas,  Harvest (Turner 65), Youngs; Cass (Beckles-Richards, 78), Wyllie