Hailsham Town secured their Sussex Division One safety in emphatic fashion with a thumping win over Selsey at the Beaconsfield on Saturday.
The Stringers only needed to equal Ringmer’s result but made light work of what was potentially a nervy final day by racing into a four-goal lead before half-time thanks to a Sam Divall hat-trick and a stunning Danny Leach effort.
With Ringmer resigned to relegation after losing 8-0 at Pagham, the result was perhaps immaterial, but Hailsham did their part anyway and can look forward to another season at the top level of Sussex football
“It is fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for more from the lads” said boss Ian Stevens.
“To smash four in the first half - I told them we needed to start fast - took the pressure right off.
“At half-time the players were all checking the Ringmer score and they were only 1-0 down. They must have done the same and it probably affected them a little bit.”
Hailsham took just six minutes to get into their stride as Divall eased any nerves with a header that found its way in off of the upright.
And it was one way traffic from there. While Selsey, who were relegated some weeks ago, deserve credit for refusing to give in, they could do nothing about Leach’s volley which crashed in off the underside of the bar in the 24th minute.
Just two minutes later Divall prodded home number three after latching onto a through ball ahead of the on-rushing Slesey stopper.
Leach went close to his second and captain Jamie Salvidge almost put the Stringers well and truly out of sight.
Craig Norman’s long-range effort was almost dropped into the net before Divall completed his treble by chesting home a Joey Pout cross.
They continued to create chances after the break but the main remit was to see the game out and keep their clean sheet in tact.
While remaining solid at the back, Pout and Leach probed for a fifth goal but were denied.
And they might have had a penalty after a strong-looking handball shout was waved away by the referee.
The visitors were limited to almost no chances as they relied heavily on long balls into the channels.
Clean sheets have been hard to come by for the Stringers this season but a resolute and tenacious back line kept them at bay quite comfortably as they signed off a turbulent season in some style.
“We definitely did not deserve to go down” added Stevens, who took the reins at the Beaconsfield in November.
“Since I took over we have picked up 29 points and that is mid-table form. It has been a team effort to get us here. I have a fantastic management team, right down to the physio and I am happy for us all.
“It has been an enjoyable season for me personally and I am already looking forward to the next one.
“I would like to keep all of the lads here next season and hopefully add a few more players as well as we do have quite a small squad at the moment.”
Hailsham team v Selsey: Levett, Williams, Snashall, Lee, Divall, Stracey, Norman, Salvidge, Divall, Leach, Pout.
Subs: Saunders, Gray, Townsend, Page, Firman.
For full league tables, see Friday’s Eastbourne Herald.