A late volleyed goal from substitute Daniel Wishart was just about enough to earn Hayes & Yeading United a most precious three points at Kingfield against fellow relegation strugglers Kettering Town.
Nas Bashir gave a debut to latest arrival, from Millwall, Aiden O'Brien as United went with a versatile three pronged attack in the form of O'Brien, Tom Collins and Luke Williams looking for a moral boosting victory against the Poppies.
It was indeed United who started the game at quite a pace as early chances came the way of all three forward players. Jamie Hand's corner was nodded down by O'Brien inside the six yard box, the Poppies defence managed to scramble the ball away but only to Hand, his low hit centre being prodded inches wide of the far post by O'Brien. Collins was next to try his luck as he burst between two defenders in the centre before cutting back and hitting a shot that keeper Laurie Walker got down well to grab.
Kettering's first foray towards Steve Arnold's goal saw Aman Verma try his luck from range, Mark Bentley's outstretched boot took the sting off the shot which meant Arnold gathered comfortably. Play was soon back down the other end though as Williams brought the ball under control before sending O'Brien on his way, the Millwall youngster seeing his shot from just inside the area go the wrong side of the upright.
Still United pressed forwards, Hand fed the ball left to Williams who cut inside Phil Ifil before curling a shot towards the far bottom corner, Walker doing very well to push the ball away diving full stretch to his left. Two minutes later it was his opposite number that was called into action as Ifil whipped in a cross from the right that required a tip over by United stopper Steve Arnold.
United were soon pushing forwards again. Williams found O'Brien who beat the Poppies offside trap once again, hitting a shot from outside the box that again went the wrong side of the post. Williams and O'Brien were really causing the visitors defence, marshalled by caretaker Manager Ashley Westwood, all sorts of problems and a minute before the break they combined again but this time O'Brien's effort was superbly blocked by a sliding Ifil.
Last chance of the half brought a fine save from United's Arnold as he reached up to tip over a Nathan Ralph drive after he had been picked out by the impressive Marcus Kelly.
After dominating the game for no reward in the first half, United seemed a little subdued in the second half and it turned into a much more even game of football with United firing the killer blow just six minutes from time.
Six minutes into the half United survived their biggest scare when the ball was slid perfectly to Kelly who advanced into the United area forcing a fine diving parry from Arnold, the ball going to the arriving Ben Joyce who looked to have the simple task of giving his side the lead but for a superb sliding interception by United man-of-the-match Dan Spence.
As we approached the hour mark the Poppies started to create some real openings in the United defence. Sol Davis sent Joyce away on the left, his low driven centre missing all and sundry as it flew across the six yard box. Less than minute later Danny Mills found space in the area, his initial shot being blocked by Phil Walsh, the follow up being blocked by Pelé before Kelly fired the loose ball wide.
Arnold's last action of real note came in the 62nd minute when Verma and Ifil combined on the right, the latter centreing the ball to Westwood but his touch from eight yards fell nicely into Arnold's gloves.
With both sides making changes the game became very quiet for around 20 minutes before United substitute Daniel Wishart came up trumps for the home side. Fellow substitute Dwane Lee lobbed the ball to the near post with a long throw on the left, Walsh rose highest to help the ball on to Wishart who crashed home an unstoppable volley from seven yards out much to the delight everybody in United colours (pictured left).
The only half chance after this fell to United as the sides third substitute, Julian Owusu, got his head to a Yassin Moutaouakil cross but Walker grabbed the ball just under the angle of bar and post.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Dan Spence.
Manager's Post Match Thoughts here.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.