Relieved United look to future

Jason Hopkinson with Hastings captain Sean Ray after the final whistle at The Pilot Field on Saturday
Jason Hopkinson with Hastings captain Sean Ray after the final whistle at The Pilot Field on Saturday
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Jason Hopkinson has quickly turned his attention to next season after Hastings United’s narrow escape from the drop.

The U’s retained their Ryman Premier status on goal difference after a nail-biting last day of the season. A win would have settled everybody’s nerves at The Pilot Field last Saturday but Hastings were beaten 3-2 by Aveley.

Ultimately, the defeat hardly mattered in the context of who went down as Maidstone United - the only team that realistically could have caught Hastings - also lost away to AFC Hornchurch.

“We’ve already had a little chat about next season, about what we’re going to do,” revealed Hastings manager Hopkinson.

“We’re going to meet up with the chairman fairly quickly,” he went on. “We’ve got to identify a few players - Harry Beautyman and George Porter (two loan signings who impressed during the second half of the season) won’t be with us so we are certainly going to replace them.

“We need a little bit more experience in certain areas but we don’t want to change it too much because it’s not a bad group of players. We’ve just got to sit down and talk to them and see how it goes.”

Although Hopkinson eventually steered Hastings clear of the drop zone, there can be no escaping that this has been a hugely disappointing season, particularly in light of all positive noises being made last summer.

After a bright start, the campaign simply unravelled and one by one the new signings all departed followed by Hopkinson’s predecessor, Tony Dolby, at the end of last year.

Hopkinson had to draft in a host of new players and despite an indifferent end to the season which saw them pick up only six points from their last eight games, the U’s did just enough to stave off the spectre of relegation.

“It was absolutely fantastic we stayed up but I would have preferred it if we had done it,” said Hopkinson referring to Maidstone’s failure to take advantage of the Aveley defeat. “But we have done it in other games.”