By Mike May
Crawley Down Gatwick suffered their 30th defeat of the season in devastating style when they were smashed 6-0 by Hythe.
Shaun Welford scored a second half hat-trick for the visitors who extended a 1-0 half-time lead with rich pickings after the break.
Playing their penultimate game of the season on Easter Monday, Down got off to a terrible start when striker Wilfred Grimaud was sent-off after only 10 minutes for kicking Hythe’s Tommy Osborne, leaving the Anvils to play out most of the game reduced to 10 men.
Bolstered by the numerical advantage, Hythe’s James Morrish crossed for Dan Stubbs to steer past ‘keeper Zane Campbell-Rose to take the lead.
After the opening goal it was one-way traffic but stout defending and profligate finishing kept the score down to just a single goal as half-time.
In the second half Hythe stepped up into demolition mode, with first Campbell-Rose having to produce a flying save to keep out another Morrish strike and from the resulting corner Welford rose to head home and extend the visitors’ lead.
Down’s Tom Bingham had a half chance that unemployed ‘keeper Dan Eason turned away for a corner, on the hour Tom Frankland replaced the tiring Romone McCrae, while in midfield John Lansdale continued to wage a one-man war against the visitors.
Hythe’s Welford continued to boss the park and on 54 minutes he was able to scramble the ball home for 3-0 after another Stubbs corner had caused mayhem in the box.
A defensive mistake let in Craig Thompson to open his account and Hythe’s fourth of the afternoon.
The combination of a Stubbs corner and a Welford finish after the initial header had come back off the bar led to Hythe’s fifth.
Substitute Lloyd Blackman then added his name to the scoresheet on 85 minutes after juggling with the ball before smashing it into the net to end the game in the visitors’ favour.
Down: Campbell-Rose, Hills, Akwasi-Edusei, Akandi, Bakari-Smith, Lansdale, Afellows, Akehurst, Grimaud, Bingham, McCrae (Frankland).
Unused subs: Coker, Magna
Man of the Match: Zane Campbell-Rose