Hastings '˜brimming with confidence' ahead of key Easter weekend

Hastings United's footballers are '˜brimming with confidence' heading into a potentially pivotal Easter weekend.

Saturday, 15th April 2017, 10:59 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 9:30 pm
Simon Johnson celebrates his second goal in Hastings United's 5-1 win away to South Park on Wednesday. Picture courtesy Scott White

United will hope to secure their place in the Ryman Football League Division One South play-offs this weekend as they contest two games in 48 hours.

They will host mid-table Walton Casuals today (Saturday, kick-off 3pm) before travelling to seventh-placed Lewes - who are five points behind them - on Monday.

United have taken a firm hold of the final play-off spot with away wins over Cray Wanderers on Sunday and South Park on Wednesday.

Matt Bodkin scores Hastings United's third goal against South Park. Picture courtesy Scott White

“At the moment we’re absolutely brimming with confidence, we’ve got a great work ethic and a great dressing room, and I wouldn’t want to be any team coming down on Saturday and playing us,” said manager Darren Hare.

Fifth-placed United head into the final three games of the season with a four-point cushion over sixth-placed Carshalton Athletic.

Six more points therefore will make absolutely sure of a play-off place, but five more will be sufficient due to United’s vastly superior goal difference.

Hare said: “I would like to think we’ve done enough, but there’s still three games to play and realistically three teams that could overtake us.

“We seem like we’ve got the bit between the teeth. The players seem hungry and are showing me they want to achieve something this season. I think the best thing for me to do is let them get on with it.”

Lewes are away to Carshalton today, incidentally, so if that match ends in a draw and United beat Walton, Hare’s team will all but have tied up their play-off place before the East Sussex derby.

“Walton won’t be easy and they beat us at their place (when current United player Kiernan Hughes-Mason scored for Walton against United), but they won’t be relishing coming down to us,” Hare went on.

“We’ve got to go and be dominant and make sure our full-backs don’t come out of their slots. If we play anything like we have done in the last two games, I can’t see them causing us too many problems.

“People come down to our place and raise their game and we’ve got to be mindful of that, but we’ve had some outstanding performances at home.

Hare believes the 1-0 defeat away to bottom club Godalming Town two weeks ago - which at the time looked a big blow to United’s play-off prospects - has galvanised the squad.

“The players were very quick to self-evaluate after the Godalming game,” continued Hare. “They were very critical of themselves and there were a few arguments, but it needed to happen and as a group they galvanised on the back of that. They’ve produced two great performances and two great wins.”

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