Hastings United manager Darren Hare admits the football club has a mountain to climb in its quest for a play-off place.
Even after the 3-0 win at home to Horsham on Tuesday night, United are still five places and eight points outside Ryman Football League Division One South’s top five, albeit having played fewer matches than all of the teams above them.
Hare said: “We’ve still got a mountain to climb and the odds are against us, but if we can get another couple of wins in the next couple of games, we’re still in touching distance.”
Assuming the weather doesn’t intervene, United’s next two fixtures are against sides in the bottom nine of the table.
They are due to host 16th-placed Whyteleafe today (Saturday) before travelling to second-bottom Three Bridges on Tuesday night.
Whyteleafe have lost their last three matches having won their three prior to that, and were beaten 4-0 at home to United in October’s reverse fixture when all the goals came during the final 20 minutes.
“Whyteleafe are not bad and on their day they can beat anyone,” continued Hare. “We know this isn’t going to be an easy game.
“Luckily we scored early on against Horsham and I think we’re going to need to score early on again, but if we don’t end up doing that, the result could quite easily go the other way.
“We’ve got to be positive, industrious, competitive, decent in possession and I’m sure if we are, we will manage to pick up some points.”
On the player front, United have released left-back Adam Green, who went off injured against Hythe Town two weeks ago, largely due to the impact made by Johnny Akoto over the last couple of games.
Hare again praised Akoto for his display against Horsham, although he did admit the youngster was ‘a little bit fortunate’ not to be sent-off during the second half.
“On another occasion he could’ve gone, but he put in another solid display the kid,” said Hare. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s earned himself a place in the team. One v one there’s not many who can get by him.”
Hare added that United have been told they keep jet-heeled Gillingham youngster Bradley Stevenson indefinitely, but is unsure if midfielder Jack Evans’ initial one-month loan from Maidstone United, which is due to finish after tomorrow’s game, will be extended.
“Obviously we would like to keep him and I think he would like to stay; it’s a question of if we can afford to do it,” Hare said. “The club have backed me 100 percent so far.”
Simon Johnson has a tight hamstring, but hopes to be fit for today’s match and Callum Emptage should return after illness. Matt Bodkin still has two matches to run on his suspension.
Back-up goalkeeper Ryan Nicholls played for Sevenoaks Town, with whom he is dual registered, on Tuesday night as a favour to their manager and to get some much-needed game time.
* KICK-OFF in today’s match against Whyteleafe has been brought forward by an hour to 2pm, as agreed by the opposition, due to the floodlight issue which arose against Horsham.
Highlights Floodlights are unable to carry out repairs to the problem pylon until Monday morning.
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