United tackle relegation battles

10/3/12- Hastings Utd vs Canvey Island football action. Photo by Steve Hunnisett
10/3/12- Hastings Utd vs Canvey Island football action. Photo by Steve Hunnisett

Hastings United can take another giant stride towards Ryman Premier survival if they answer player-boss Sean Ray’s call for “a minimum of four points” from two key games.

The U’s continue their fight against relegation with a visit to seventh-from-bottom Wingate & Finchley today (Saturday) before welcoming third-from-bottom Tooting & Mitcham United to The Pilot Field on Tuesday.

“The bare minimum is a point on Saturday and I’m looking for three points at home on Tuesday,” said Ray who added that maximum points would be “massive”.

Hastings currently sit two places and six points above the drop zone and also have a game in hand on the two teams immediately below them.

A win this weekend would see them leapfrog their opponents and three points in midweek would hammer another nail into the coffin of a Tooting side becoming increasingly cast adrift along with Aveley and Horsham.

Hastings have given themselves a great chance of getting out of relegation mire rather earlier than might have been expected by picking up seven points out of a possible 12 against top seven opposition.

Ray will miss the next three games after being handed a touchline ban as a consequence of his run-in with officialdom at the end of the Boxing Day game against Lewes.

His place will be taken by captain Josh Jirbandey who was on the substitutes’ bench at the weekend after being unavailable for the previous game at AFC Hornchurch. Jamal Willer, who has been hampered by a back injury, could also return.

TODAY’S SENIOR FOOTBALL FIXTURES (ALL 3PM)

Ryman League, Premier Division: Wingate & Finchley v Hastings Utd.

Sussex County League, Division 1: Rye Utd v Ringmer; Sidley Utd v Lingfield.

Division 2: Bexhill Utd v Southwick; Dorking Wanderers v Westfield; Little Common v Steyning Town.