Boxing Day derby tough to call, says Hastings boss

Sam Cruttwell goes up for a header during Hastings United's 1-0 win at home to Faversham Town last Tuesday. Picture courtesy Scott White
Sam Cruttwell goes up for a header during Hastings United's 1-0 win at home to Faversham Town last Tuesday. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United Football Club manager Darren Hare believes the Boxing Day derby at home to Lewes today (Monday) is too close to call.

United are 11th in the Ryman Football League Division One South table and are 11 points behind Carshalton Athletic - who occupy the final play-off place of fifth - with three games in hand.

Lewes, whose squad includes former United midfielder Jack Dixon, are three places and seven points better off than United having played two more matches.

"They're going well and they've been very consistent so it's going to be a really tough game, but we go into it full of confidence," said Hare. "If I was a betting man it would be difficult for me to bet which way this one will go."

Steve Watt is still around a fortnight away from a return to action, but Kiernan Hughes-Mason and Jaydon Thorbourne are expected to be back after missing the Faversham game through illness and injury respectively.

Barry Cogan (tight hamstring), Simon Johnson (sore Achilles) and Ollie Rowe (broken toe) are likely to continue to play through their injury issues.

Hastings United defender Ollie Rowe keeps a close eye on a Faversham Town opponent. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United defender Ollie Rowe keeps a close eye on a Faversham Town opponent. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hare decided ahead of the Tooting & Mitcham United game last weekend to relieve central defender Rowe of the captaincy and instead give the armband to midfielder Johnson.

"I made the decision with a heavy heart," said Hare. "Ollie's a cracking lad and a proper pro who works hard, is always there for training.

"It was just a case of trying to get the best out of Ollie. When you're captain and things aren't going well, you can have the weight of the world on your shoulders at times as a player.

"He's desperate to do well and I think it was having an impact on his performances. We just thought we would give it a try. He was quite happy to see if it makes a difference and I think the last two games he's been up there with our best performers."

Kick-off at The Pilot Field today is 3pm.

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