Hastings boss: 20 more points should clinch play-off spot

Darren Hare believes his Hastings United footballers will need 20 points from their remaining 10 games to secure a play-off place.

Saturday, 4th March 2017, 6:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 9:37 pm
Sam Cruttwell on the charge during Hastings United's 1-1 draw away to Hythe Town on Tuesday night. Picture courtesy Scott White

United currently occupy the final Ryman Football League Division One South play-off spot of fifth, albeit only on goal difference in a closely-bunched part of the table.

Hare said: “I think we need another 20 points from our last 10 games; I think that will get us in there. But who knows. It’s quite a high scoring top six so far.”

With leaders Tooting & Mitcham United and second-placed Dorking Wanderers well clear of the rest, several teams are battling it out for the final three play-off places.

Frannie Collin goes up for a header against Hythe. Picture courtesy Scott White

Just six points separate third-placed Greenwich Borough and eighth-placed Corinthian-Casuals so it promises to be a real scrap over the remaining seven weeks of the campaign.

“It’s going to go to the wire,” continued Hare. “But we’re in there now, we’re in the mix and we’ve got a fantastic goal difference which should be worth an extra point.

“It’s going to be an interesting couple of months. I’m looking forward to it, I know the players are and hopefully we can deliver.”

Although United’s run of five consecutive wins and clean sheets has been checked by a couple of score draws over the past week, they are still one of the division’s form sides.

United are unbeaten in their last nine games, with six wins and three draws. They’ve scored 24 goals during that sequence and conceded only five.

“We just need to keep trying to win games,” Hare went on. “Our opponents up there around us have all got to play each other. There’s 10 games to go - that’s almost a quarter of the season - and there’s going to be a few twists and turns that’s for sure.

“We’ve just got to hang in there. The players can sense it and I know they’re looking forward to the challenge.”

After a hectic run of seven games in the final 22 days of February, United’s four matches in March are all on Saturdays and Hare is looking forward to having more time between fixtures.

“I think it’s going to help immensely,” he said. “We can do some work on the training ground and look after the players from a fitness point of view. I think that will work in our favour.”

Next up today (Saturday) is the long trip to Ramsgate. Although in the bottom half of the table, the Rams were the last team to beat United when they won 2-1 in the reverse fixture on a freezing January night at The Pilot Field.

“We go to Ramsgate on Saturday full of confidence, but knowing it’s going to be a very tough game,” added Hare. “They’re young, they’re hard working and for me they’ve been resurgent since Lloyd Blackman took over (as manager). They’re going to be a tough team to play against.”

With Stephen Butcher and Callum Emptage back to fitness, United have a pretty clean bill of health, although Simon Johnson continues to battle a sore Achilles which caused him to be substituted in Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw at Hythe Town.

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