Sean Ray has hailed his players after Hastings United secured their Ryman Premier status with a week of the season to spare.
The U’s survival was confirmed last Saturday by a superb 3-1 win away to high-flying Lowestoft Town and Leatherhead - the team in the fourth and final relegation place - losing 2-0 at home to Kingstonian.
Goals from Josh Jirbandey, Bradley Goldberg and Bailo Camara ensured Hastings would be spared a fraught final weekend for only the second time in five seasons since gaining promotion to the top flight of the Ryman League.
“The effort the boys have put in, not just against Lowestoft but since I have taken over has been absolutely brilliant,” said player-boss Ray. “The players deserve the plaudits because they are the ones who have gone out and got the points.”
Ray, who has made more than 250 appearances for The Pilot Field club, was appointed manager following the departure of Jason Hopkinson at the end of the October with Hastings in their present position of fifth-from-bottom on 10 points from 12 games.
Since then they have picked up 37 points from 29 matches and, perhaps just as importantly, the football served up has been a great deal more entertaining.
Hastings conclude their season at home to mid-table Metropolitan Police today (Saturday) when a win would see them hit the 50-point mark and possibly leapfrog Harrow Borough in the table.
Return to this website this evening for a report.
TODAY’S SENIOR FOOTBALL FIXTURES (ALL 3PM)
Ryman League, Premier Division: Hastings Utd v Metropolitan Police.
Sussex County League, Division 1: Pagham v Sidley Utd; Three Bridges v Rye Utd.