United boss set to make changes

Hastings United forward Frannie Collin wins a header against South Park on Wednesday night. Picture courtesy Scott White
Hastings United forward Frannie Collin wins a header against South Park on Wednesday night. Picture courtesy Scott White
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Hastings United manager Darren Hare is set to make changes as the football club seeks a swift return to form.

United were beaten 3-2 after extra-time away to South Park in an FA Trophy second round qualifying replay on Wednesday night after drawing 1-1 in Saturday's original meeting.

Hare's team was ahead three times across the two games only to be pegged back on every occasion, something he is keen to address as quickly as possible.

He said: "To say I'm concerned would be a slight under-statement. To say I'm disappointed would be very much an under-statement. We've got to dig deep and show a bit of character.

"As soon as we go in front, we clam up. It's a mental change in the game we've got to get to the bottom of. I would love to get 1-0 up and be able to lock the game out, but we just couldn't do it.

"All season I've been a little bit concerned about us during transition. But now even when we're a little bit more conservative and don't go gung-ho, there are too many gaps in between our lines and in behind our defence.

Matt Bodkin controls the ball with his chest during the extra-time defeat to South Park. Picture courtesy Scott White

Matt Bodkin controls the ball with his chest during the extra-time defeat to South Park. Picture courtesy Scott White

"All the goals we concede are down to basic defensive errors and it's getting to the stage where I've got to make some changes to be honest.

"No-one means to make a mistake and we've got a great bunch of lads, but when there's a bit of pressure, we seem to really get nervous. I think that then starts to act like a virus throughout the group."

United's squad has been stretched to the limit by injuries and departures, and Hare is looking to strengthen in defence, midfield and attack.

"We definitely need to strengthen the group," he continued. "I'm not saying I'm going to get rid of players, but we need to add a bit of bulk to our squad and the board have recognised that as well.

Sam Cruttwell on the ball against South Park. Picture courtesy Scott White

Sam Cruttwell on the ball against South Park. Picture courtesy Scott White

"Steve (Watt, assistant manager) and I are working hard to do that over the next couple of weeks. I'm hoping to get somebody signed by the weekend and there's two or three others we're thinking about trying to get in as well.

"We definitely need a left-back - I think that's clear - I think we need some defensive cover centrally, we need another central midfield player if I'm honest to create some competition in those areas and I think we need another forward.

"You need a squad of 16, 17 to choose from and those players need to be competing for places. But it's going to be a question of balancing the books and getting the right players."

Alex Akrofi will be joining Tonbridge Angels after Hare said the striker, who lives in Dagenham and doesn't drive, was finding the journey too difficult. Jerome Smith will continue at East Grinstead Town, where he has been on an extended loan.

Stephen Butcher (hamstring) is still a week or two from fitness, while Sam Cole has still got a bit of swelling on his knee and is likely therefore to be out for a while longer.

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