Hastings United's footballers will enjoy a happier Christmas after an excellent pair of wins over the past week.
United stunned second-placed Tooting & Mitcham United 4-0 away from home on Saturday before winning 1-0 at home to Faversham Town on Tuesday night, despite playing most of the match a man down.
Those results have brought some much-needed festive cheer to The Pilot Field after United had lost all of their previous three Ryman Football League Division One South games and conceded 13 goals in the process.
"We always knew we had it in us," said United manager Darren Hare, who admitted to being at 'a very low ebb' after the 5-4 defeat away to Molesey on Tuesday, last week.
"We weren't defending well enough or managing the transition as well as we could've done. When you're having a bad time of it, what becomes most important is to keep a clean sheet.
"We went back to basics, changed the shape, put some different players in, changed our philosophy a bit. Teams were hitting us on the break all the time so our full-backs are staying at home a little bit more and we're relying on our front four - or front six - to cause problems down the other end."
Hare described his side's display against Tooting as 'one of the best team performances I've ever seen at this level' and their efforts against Faversham as 'one of those displays that wins leagues'.
"I was proud of the boys on Tuesday night," continued Hare, whose team had Callum Emptage controversially sent-off in the 39th minute with the game still goalless. "We needed that as much as the Tooting win. I'm delighted for the players because they're a nice group.
"The sending-off was bizarre, but you've got to try to get on with it and hopefully things will work out for you. It galvanised us a bit and sometimes when you get angry, you get a bit of energy."
United remain 11th in the table and are now 11 points behind Carshalton Athletic - who occupy the final play-off place of fifth - with three games in hand as they look ahead to the Boxing Day derby at home to Lewes. Kick-off is 3pm.
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