Darren Hare believes his Hastings United footballers have discovered the right balance between attack and defence following a sudden upturn in form.
After a run of three straight defeats in which they conceded 13 goals, United have won their last three matches and kept clean sheets in all of them, scoring eight times in the process.
Speaking after the 3-0 victory at home to Lewes on Boxing Day, United manager Hare said: “It’s exactly that. If we don’t concede and we keep the clean sheet run going, we will always score goals. We’re averaging about three goals a game and we will always create chances with the forward players available to us at the moment.
“We’ve got to trust and believe in our ability to tuck one away, and also trust in our ability to lock down a game. We’ve not been able to do that recently and quite what the change has been I don’t exactly know if I’m totally honest. I think that’s football for you.
“Certainly Sam (Cruttwell) has made a huge difference dropping in at left-sided centre-back. He’s done magnificently for the last three games there and (fellow centre-half) Ollie Rowe I think has been one of our best players in those three games too.
“I think we’ve got the defensive pairing right at the moment, and we’ve got to make sure we stay tight and together as a group - and that’s clear in the dressing room at the moment.”
United remain 11th in Ryman Football League Division One South, but are now closing in on the sides above them and they still have games in hand on all of the top 10.
“We’re still making one or two errors defensively, but we’re starting to show there’s a combativeness about us, there’s a discipline about us and we’re becoming much harder to beat - and that had to change after those three defeats,” continued Hare.
“We had to get into a position where we were difficult to beat and I’m really proud of the players because they took that on board, and they’re wearing their hearts on their sleeves and really giving everything for the club.”
Although United are still 10 points outside the play-off spots, they possess the best goal difference in the division and only second-placed Tooting & Mitcham United have scored more.