United within sight of safety

Sean Ray shadows an opponent during Hastings United's 3-0 win over Margate last weekend

Sean Ray shadows an opponent during Hastings United's 3-0 win over Margate last weekend

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It’s a tall order but this could be the weekend when Hastings United all but retain their Ryman Premier status.

The U’s currently sit six points clear of the relegation zone with only four rounds of fixtures remaining. The first of these sees them visit leaders and champions-elect Sutton United today (Saturday).

If they were to win - and that’s a big if going by league positions - and fourth-from-bottom Aveley fail to pick up any points at home to Margate, it would mean the U’s could only be overtaken on goal difference. And as United’s is vastly superior compared to all their relegation rivals that would appear highly unlikely.

Things will appear very different, however, if Hastings lose and Aveley - who visit The Pilot Field on the last day of the season - beat opponents who were thumped 3-0 by Jason Hopkinson’s improving team last weekend.

Looking ahead to the trip to a Sutton side which could be crowned champions by the end of the weekend (closest rivals Bury Town play on Sunday),” Hopkinson said: “We’ve got four games left and I want as many points as possible from those games.

“We go into every game with the same optimism, same application and same desire,” he went on. “It will be a difficult game but it’s still two teams and eleven against eleven. I want points from every game.”

Lee Carey - Hopkinson’s man of the match against Margate - will continue in central midfield and Ryan Storrie returns to the squad but Matt Hall is unavailable.

TODAY’S SENIOR FOOTBALL FIXTURES (ALL 3PM)

Ryman League, Premier Division: Sutton Utd v Hastings Utd.

Sussex County League, Division 1: Redhill v Sidley Utd; Rye Utd v Chichester City.

Division 2: Bexhill Utd v Clymping; Lancing v Little Common; Westfield v Worthing Utd.