Captain Peter Holmes scored a delightful first goal for Hayes & Yeading United but it wasn't enough to prevent his team from slipping to defeat against Kettering Town.
The former Luton midfielder guided a curling shot with precision into the top corner, beating keeper Kelvin Jack all ends up, but for the second game in a row, United's players and staff will feel that they didn't get the result their efforts deserved.
Kettering started strongly and were in the lead as early as the fifth minute. Serge Mokofo outpaced Lewis Ferrell to reach a long ball behind the defence and the left winger rounded Josh Lennie before putting the ball into the empty net.
United settled and Adrian Patulea collected Bradley Pritchard's pass and turned his marker, but his weak shot was easily gathered in by Jack. Pritchard was again the orchestrator as he found Ferrell in an advanced position on the right and his driven cross was headed narrowly wide by Patulea.
United continued their search for an equaliser. Jamie Hand passed the ball to Patulea who set up Pritchard. The midfielder's shot was fumbled by Jack and Greg Taylor intervened with a clearance, although he came within inches of blasting the ball into his own net.
Lennie was required to tip a Brett Solkhon header over after a James Dance cross found the midfielder in space in front of goal, but at the other end, Jack again spilled the ball, this time from a James Mulley header, but he was able to smother it before Patulea could turn it in.
United got a deserved equaliser in stoppage time, and it was a fine goal. Mulley and Hand combined to keep the ball in the attacking third after a corner and Hand's incisive pass found Holmes in the left channel. He got the ball out of his feet and curled a beautiful shot intot he top corner.
Unfortuantely, within three minutes of the restart, this work was undone when Dance ghosted in at the far post to volley in a long Taylor throughball unmarked. It would have got worse for United three minutes later but for a superb save from Lennie after Solkhon connected sweetly with Jean-Paul Marna's cross to fire a half volley goalwards, only for the United keeper to tip the ball over acrobatically.
However, just like the first half, United composed themselves after the early onslaught and played neat football to impose themselves on the game once again. Lee Brown's crossing from the left was very dangerous in particular and Michael Malcolm just failed to get a decent connection on the ball at point blank range, the ball eventually bouncing up into Jack's hands. Brown then found Hand whose cross was chested down expertly by Patulea, but with Jack charging out, the Romanian forward was just unable to keep his volley down, clearing the crossbar by inches.
Brown was also involved when two minutes later, he and Malcolm combined to set up substitute Liam Enver-Marum but his shot rolled wide of the near post.
From then on, United found it difficult to break Kettering down. The home side were expertly running the clock down, although referee Amy Fearn did take this into account by adding five extra minutes on at the end. It wasn't until that stoppage time when United carved out a great chance to claim a deserved point. A corner from Holmes was headed up into the air by Enver-Marum under pressure and Jack came flying off his line to punch the ball. He failed to get a clean connection and Andy Yiadom was on the edge of the area to collect the loose ball. With defenders retreating to the goal line, Yidaom's lob was perfectly weighted but was narrowly wide of the post.
United remain in the bottom four, but with performances such as those seen recently, they will be confident of rising up the table shortly.
Report by Nick Bell.
United Man of the Match: Lee Brown.