Hastings United manager Nigel Kane is calling on his players to produce one more big performance in the all-important final game of the season.
A draw or better away to Walton & Hersham today (Saturday) will ensure United finish outside the three relegation places in Ryman Football League Division One South.
Kane said: “We’re still not quite there. We need another big performance on Saturday. A draw will be enough, but we’ve got to approach the game as if we need to win it.”
Having won three of their last four matches, including a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at home to third-placed Faversham Town on Saturday, United are two points and two places above the drop zone.
East Grinstead Town dropped into the bottom three after losing at home to Tooting & Mitcham United on Saturday and must win their final match at Whitstable Town to stand any chance of finishing outside the relegation places.
Like United, fourth-bottom Ramsgate are two points above the bottom three and their last fixture is at home to mid-table Corinthian-Casuals. Horsham and Redhill are certain to finish in the bottom two places.
We need another big performance on Saturday. A draw will be enough, but we’ve got to approach the game as if we need to win it.Nigel Kane
What’s more, United’s goal difference is far better than that of Ramsgate and East Grinstead.
United are three places and five points behind final day opponents Walton & Hersham, and were beaten 2-1 in November’s reverse fixture.
“We’re capable of beating Walton & Hersham; we’ve proved that by turning over Faversham and beating Herne Bay,” added Kane. “We’ve been competitive against the better sides, but it’s the teams down the bottom we struggle against.
“They’ve got a very similar record to us, but last weekend was the first time they’ve come from behind to win all season so if we can get our noses in front, I think that will be the key ingredient.
“We’ve got our sights on Carshalton just above us. They’ve lost seven of their last eight games and it would be great to catch them.”
Experienced pair Ade Olorunda and Richard Rose are back from suspension.
Kane said: “It’s going to be difficult to change a winning side, but we’ve got to select the side that I think is best suited to picking up the point or points we need.”
Later today, a United Supporters XI will take on a Medway Rovers XI at The Pilot Field in a charity match in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and the Help Ruby Laura Smash Cancer fundraising scheme. Kick-off is 8pm.
TODAY’S FOOTBALL FIXTURES
(Kick-off 3pm unless stated)
Ryman League, Division 1 South: Walton & Hersham v Hastings Utd.
Macron Store Sussex County League, Reserve Section Challenge Cup semi-final: Little Common v Wick & Barnham Utd.
Reserve Section (East): Westfield v Worthing Utd.
Macron East Sussex League, Premier Division: Hollington Utd v Peche Hill Select.
Division 1: Bexhill AAC v Ticehurst.
Division 2: JC Tackleway v Herstmonceux; Wittersham v Old Hastonians.
Division 3: Peche Hill Select II v AFC Hastings.
Division 4: Peasmarsh Utd v Little Common III.
Division 5: Grasshoppers Old Boys v Wittersham II; Hailsham Athletico v JC Tackleway II; Mayfield v Battle Baptists II; Parkfield v Sedlescombe Rangers II; Ticehurst II v Victoria Baptists.
Division 6: Battle Baptists III v Hawkhurst Utd II; Icklesham Casuals II v FC Westridge.
Robertsbridge Charity Intermediate Cup semi-final (2.30): Ninfield Utd v Iden.