In-form U’s still have work to do

Hastings United action, 12/11/11
Hastings United action, 12/11/11

Sean Ray insists Hastings United still have a lot of work to do in their survival mission.

That’s despite the U’s moving six points clear of the relegation zone in the Ryman Football League Premier Division courtesy of a splendid 2-0 win at home to promotion hopefuls Lowestoft Town on Tuesday night.

United player-manager Ray said: “We’ve got a lot of hard work to do yet. Just look at our next two games (away to sixth-placed Cray Wanderers and second-placed AFC Hornchurch).

“If we lose those two games we could easily be back down the bottom again. We can’t get carried away, we’ve just got to make sure we keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully we can carry ourselves to safety.”

Ray is, nonetheless, pleased with the form of a United side which has won its last two competitive games and is unbeaten in three league matches at The Pilot Field since the turn of the year.

“I think we’re hitting a bit of form,” he continued. “Seven points from a possible 12 in the league is a good return bearing in mind we’ve played Billericay, Hendon and Lowestoft. They’re all good sides.”

Ray is hoping to avoid defeat in the tough-looking trips to Cray today (Saturday) and Hornchurch on Tuesday night. Hornchurch possess the division’s best defensive record and only two clubs have scored more than Cray.

“If we can stay unbeaten in the next two games away, we give ourselves a good chance,” added Ray, whose side has lost twice at home to Cray this season, although the first defeat was under previous boss Jason Hopkinson.

Josh Jirbandey missed the Lowestoft game with “man ‘flu”, Jack Dixon played despite a throat infection and Ray is on painkillers for his troublesome knees.

But with Jordan Woodley now having completed his ban and Jamie Crellin back from his suspension on Tuesday, the squad will shortly be up to full strength.

TODAY’S MAIN FOOTBALL FIXTURES (3PM UNLESS STATED)

Ryman League, Premier Division: Cray Wanderers v Hastings Utd.

Sussex County League, Division 1: Rye Utd v Worthing Utd; Sidley Utd v Three Bridges.

Division 2: Bexhill Utd v Dorking Wanderers; Little Common v Littlehampton Town; Westfield v Wick.

Sussex FA Junior Cup semi-final: Forest II v Ore Athletic 2.30.