Hastings United seek final day victory to secure home play-off tie

Hastings United Football Club is aiming to end the regular season with a victory and thereby secure a home tie in the play-offs.

Saturday, 27th April 2019, 2:54 am
Hastings United defender Gary Elphick in the thick of the action during Easter Monday's 2-2 draw at home to Ashford United. Picture courtesy Scott White

Chris Agutter’s side will play Ashford United or Haywards Heath Town in the Bostik League South East Division third versus fourth play-off semi-final on Monday night.

Whoever finishes third in the league will have home advantage. Hastings, who drew 2-2 at home to Ashford on Easter Monday, are currently two points above Ashford and will finish third if they match or better Ashford’s result today (Saturday).

See also: * Dropped goalkeeper set to return for play-off showdown* Hastings United pair perform ‘really well’ at Leicester City* Hastings United boss: Bank holiday draw was a point gained* 10-man Hastings United draw with fellow promotion hopefulsHastings are away to second-from-bottom Greenwich Borough, while Ashford are at home to Haywards Heath. Ashford must win to stand any chance of finishing above Hastings.

The winners of the third versus fourth semi-final will play whoever comes through the second versus fifth semi-final in the final, which will take place next Friday night.

The play-off winners won’t necessarily be promoted. The Bostik League South East Division is one of seven step four leagues across the country and only the five play-off winners with the best points-per-game average over the season will be promoted.

Of the 28 sides currently in the play-off places across those seven divisions, Hastings are 19th on points-per-game average with 1.914 (67 points from 35 games).

But a victory against Greenwich could move them up several places because no less than five teams are just above them on 1.919.

Hastings United defender Gary Elphick in the thick of the action during Easter Monday's 2-2 draw at home to Ashford United. Picture courtesy Scott White

“It is what it is,” said Agutter. “We’ve got to win it (the play-offs) first. It’s up to the FA to get their house in order; it’s not for me to comment really.

“We just need to try and win every game between now and the end of the season. This time last year I can remember we had our deckchairs out and were talking about next season, so we’ve got something to play for right up until the end, which is exciting.

“We’ve just got to see what happens. If we win the semis and win the play-offs, and don’t go up, it will be very unlucky, and we’ll be a victim of the restructuring rather than not being good enough.

“The Greenwich Borough game is very similar to the Sittingbourne game. Their pitch isn’t the best so we’ll have to have a think about what we’re going to do on that.

“The most important thing is we’ve got to win the next game, we’ve got to make sure there’s a semi-final here at The Pilot Field, knowing that our home record is exceptional.”

Hastings were 4-0 winners against Greenwich in the reverse fixture at the end of October and are currently on a seven-match unbeaten run.

Greenwich, though, are battling to avoid finishing bottom. They go into the final day a point above Guernsey, albeit with an inferior goal difference.

Bostik League South East Division top half (played-points): 1 Cray Wanderers 35-79 (+42 goal difference), 2 Horsham 36-74 (+35), 3 HASTINGS UNITED 35-67 (+31), 4 Ashford United 35-65 (+33), 5 Haywards Heath Town 35-63 (+18), 6 VCD Athletic 35-59 (+6), 7 Hythe Town 35-52 (+9), 8 Whyteleafe 35-49 (+9), 9 Sevenoaks Town 35-47 (-3), 10 Phoenix Sports 35-46 (-3).

* If Hastings United are at home in the play-off matches, season tickets will not be valid and season ticket holders would have to pay normal admission.

This is a directive of the league as gate receipts are shared between the two clubs and the league.