Jason Hopkinson is calling on Hastings United supporters to play a key role in helping his relegation-threatened side stay up today (Saturday).
The U’s will avoid finishing in the Ryman Premier drop zone if they win at home to Aveley on the final day of the season.
Any other result and then it all depends on Maidstone United - the only team that realistically can still overtake Hastings - not winning away to AFC Hornchurch.
“I want the fans to turn up, I want them there in droves, I want them to be positive to the final whistle and I want them noisy because they could be the difference,” said the Hastings manager. “We want to play in this league next season and we want another crack at it.”
Aveley visit The Pilot Field with their own hopes of escaping the drop all but over after losing to Hornchurch on Easter Monday, and, because of a vastly inferior goal difference, would need to win by a highly unlikely eight goals to give them any chance.
Hastings have been agonisingly close to securing their safety for a couple of weeks but one point from three games means a nervy last day is on the cards.
Harry Beautyman (groin) and George Porter (hamstring) have been struggling with injury in recent weeks but both are likely to start against Aveley after being named on the substitutes’ bench in the 2-0 defeat at Tonbridge Angels.
“We’re wrapping them up in cotton wool because they are key for us,” said Hopkinson who has also to decide whether to recall skipper Sean Ray.
“I’m looking forward to three points and then we can start planning for next season,” he went on. “It will mean a lot to me, it will mean a lot to the players, it will mean a lot to the chairman when we stay up.
“We’re at home, we’re playing on a decent pitch and that’s the big plus, that will be our 12th man. Simon (Rudkins) does an absolutely fantastic job on the pitch.”
TODAY’S SENIOR FOOTBALL FIXTURES (3PM)
Ryman League, Premier Division: Hastings Utd v Aveley.
Sussex County League, Division 1: Pagham v Sidley Utd; Wick v Rye Utd.
Division 2: Steyning Town v Little Common; Storrington v Westfield.