Darren Hare said he was ‘gutted’ for his Hastings United footballers after they came so close to pulling off an FA Cup upset.
United’s third round qualifying tie away to Margate on Tuesday night ended in a 2-2 draw after the U’s conceded twice in the final 15 minutes against a team which plays two levels above them.
Ryman Football League Division One South side United and National League South club Margate will meet again in a replay at The Pilot Field next Tuesday (7.45pm).
“I was so disappointed for them (the players) afterwards,” said United manager Hare. “It was a really strange set of emotions to go through.
“I can’t fault the players from the start to about the 70th minute when they (Margate) got their first goal. It was probably our best performance of the season. We were very comfortable at 2-0; I couldn’t see them scoring, although the warning signs were there for sure.
“I always say 2-0 is a very dangerous scoreline because once that goal goes in, the momentum changes.
“I was so proud of them up to 70 minutes, but a couple of mistakes and we were nearly out. Whether it was tiredness or lack of concentration, I’m not sure; maybe it was a combination of both.
“We can take a lot of positives out of it, but we’ve got to start being more resilient defensively and cut out basic errors.
“I’m gutted for the players, but in the same breath that’s why we’re not beating the Dorkings and Greenwichs of this world.”
Hare says United will go into the replay - which will be their first home game for more than a month - with the confidence that they can pull off a notable victory.
“We go in with the belief and knowledge that we can pull off an upset,” continued Hare. “We know we can give them a good game and we will give them a good game.
“We’ve got to take some confidence from it (Tuesday’s performance) and hopefully we can have a good go. I would love to get through to the next round because I think we would have a good chance to get through to the first round proper.”
United are the last Ryman Division One South team left in the FA Cup and if they win the replay, they will be away to Ryman Premier outfit Harrow Borough in fourth round qualifying on Saturday October 15.
If they lose the replay, United will be at home to Guernsey in a league match which will kick-off at 1pm.
Before then, United have an FA Trophy first round qualifying tie away to Ramsgate tomorrow (Saturday).
Barry Cogan is eligible for the Trophy, but Stephen Butcher is doubtful as he battles to recover from a shoulder injury. Sam Cole may have a chance of making the squad for Tuesday’s game.
While naturally pleased at United’s ongoing involvement in the FA Cup, Hare is concerned about falling behind in the league.
United are now 15th in the table - 11 points outside the play-off places - and already have up to four games in hand on some other clubs.
See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!