Hastings United have momentum - now they just need to maintain it
Hastings United have found one of the key ingredients they’ll need if they’re to clinch promotion – momentum.
And boss Gary Elphick wants his players to focus on maintaining it over the busy and vital festive period.
Saturday’s 2-0 win away to promotion rivals Herne Bay – thanks to goals inside the first eight minutes by Craig Stone and Ben Pope – lifted United to fourth place.
It was their third clean-sheet league victory inside a fortnight and was further evidence the upheaval of boss Chris Agutter leaving is behind them.
Hastings host another leading rival tomorrow when third-placed Ramsgate visit the Pilot Field.
Elphick said: “I think the win at Herne Bay was the best team performance since I’ve been at the club.
“We produced some great attacking play and very solid defending and you couldn’t really ask for more.
“When you score after three minutes you always wonder if it’s too early, but then we got a second five minutes later and were always quite comfortable after that. We’ve probably improved quicker than I thought we would and the players have bought into what we’re trying to do.
“Now we welcome Ramsgate and that will be a tough game against a side with a lot of quality. There should be a big crowd in roaring us on and that will be a huge help.”
Elphick rested the ‘spine’ of his team for Tuesday’s Sussex Senior Cup last-16 tie at step-above Horsham, which the hosts won 3-1.
He admitted he was not too disappointed to go out of the cup – as getting out of the league was the club’s clear priority. “It was a good opportunity to take on a step three side and there were plenty of lessons to learn, especially for our younger players.”
Elphick has doubts over Kenny Pogue (illness) and Sam Hasler (ribs) ahead of the Ramsgate clash but added: “We’ve got a strong squad – there’s good competition for places.”
* Hastings are opening The Continental Pilot Field on matchdays for anyone aged 16 and over who needs to get their first, second or booster vaccine – starting tomorrow.
There will be free entry to those who turn up for the vaccine. They will register at the gate and be taken to the vaccine centre. ID will be required.