Ray of light for Hastings

Hastings United V Horsham 29/10/11
Hastings United V Horsham 29/10/11
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Sean Ray revealed it was the response of the players which helped to convince him to take on the manager’s job at Hastings United.

The 30-year-old central defender accepted the post after helping the Ryman Premier club secure back-to-back wins - 5-0 at home to Horsham and 1-0 away to Aveley - for the first time since March.

Ray and Mark Stapley had been put in charge for both games in a caretaker capacity following the departure of Jason Hopkinson.

“The response of the players made it easy to take the job,” said Ray. “They have given us their support, they have been encouraging towards us and there has been a good response since it was confirmed (that he would take the job). It’s down to them that we have taken it.”

Ray - who has witnessed a new found “sense of togetherness” among the players over the last 10 days which he feels went a long way to claiming the points at Aveley - will continue playing and hopes to bring in another coach to work alongside assistant manager Stapley to help lighten the load at The Pilot Field.

“There is bound to be concern that it’s too soon but there is no guarantee that in two or three years it will be the right time,” he went on. “I feel I’m capable of having a good go and feel there is a lot at the club to work with.”

Ray - or Razor as he is nicknamed - is the club’s current longest serving player with 234 appearances and 32 goals since making his debut in August 2004.

Despite Hastings’ recent mini revival, Ray is aware of the need to strengthen the squad. “It is very light in certain areas but we’re not going to just bring in players for the sake of it. I want players I know and I can trust.”

Ray, who plans to involve the under-18s in first team training, has appointed central defensive partner Josh Jirbandey as club captain.

Striker Chamal Fenelon has left the U’s and is expected to be followed by midfielder Jack Walder, but Ray is hoping to dissuade defender Scott Manning from leaving.

His first official match in charge will be a Ryman League Cup third round tie at home to Tooting & Mitcham United today (Saturday). All the squad which performed so well over the last week will be involved along with the returning Dan Bolwell.

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

Ryman League Cup, 3rd round: Hastings Utd v Tooting & Mitcham Utd.

Sussex Senior Cup, 2nd round: Westfield v Eastbourne Utd AFC 1.30.

SCFA RUR Charity Cup, 3rd round: Bexhill Utd v Lingfield; Rye Utd v Pagham.

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

Division 2: Dorking Wanderers v Little Common 2.30.