Hastings United Football Club is confident but not arrogant heading into the all-important final few weeks of the season, according to manager Chris Agutter.
Hastings have four matches remaining in the Bostik League South East Division regular season before, almost certainly, going on to contest the play-offs.
Agutter said: “We’re happy with where we’re at, we’re playing well and we’re confident, but not arrogant. It only takes one poor 90 minutes for you to become the worst team in the world again.
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“Performances have been very good for a couple of months now and the results have started to come in the last month.
“We’re going into the play-offs confident knowing other teams will be more worried about us than we will be about them. I don’t think anybody in the play-offs will want to play us.”
Hastings dropped a place to third in the table after being without a fixture last weekend. Horsham went second courtesy of a crushing 6-1 win away to Sittingbourne.
Horsham are now three points above Hastings and their goal difference is one better, albeit having played an extra game.
Fourth-placed Ashford United remain a point behind Hastings, having now played the same number of matches, after they lost 3-1 away to Hythe Town.
The teams placed second to fifth at the end of the season will contest the play-offs and the winner of the play-offs may be promoted.
There are seven step four leagues across the country and the five play-off winners with the best points-per-game average over the season will be promoted.
Hastings will return to action at home to seventh-placed Hythe today (Saturday, kick-off 3pm) knowing that their play-off place will be confirmed if they better the result of sixth-placed VCD Athletic, who are at home to East Grinstead Town.
“We watched Hythe on Saturday and prepared accordingly,” continued Agutter. “That 3-1 scoreline didn’t reflect the game. Ashford were dominant and there looked a big difference between the teams. It was more of a smash and grab from Hythe.
“They are dangerous. They’ve got good individuals, they carry a threat and in Zak Ansah they’ve got a centre-forward who shouldn’t be in the level to be honest. He’s very clinical, arguably the best finisher in the league.
“I’m interested to see what they do. They beat us at their place through forcing a few individual errors even though we were the dominant side and they took their chances. But anyone that comes to The Pilot Field is more often than not in for a tough day at the office.”
Although the first team hasn’t played for a fortnight, Hastings’ players have still had some match action for the development squad and Agutter viewed Monday night’s match against Tooting & Mitcham United as a dummy run for today’s game.
“The whole squad have had a good run out so we certainly won’t be going into the game under-cooked or off the pace,” he added. “I think we’ve probably worked just as much this week as we have previously.”
Bostik League South East Division top half (played-points): 1 Cray Wanderers 31-72 (+39 goal difference), 2 Horsham 33-65 (+29), 3 HASTINGS UNITED 32-62 (+28), 4 Ashford United 32-61 (+33), 5 Haywards Heath Town 32-59 (+17), 6 VCD Athletic 32-53 (+5), 7 Hythe Town 33-50 (+9), 8 Whyteleafe 32-45 (+8), 9 Phoenix Sports 32-43 (-1), 10 Whitstable Town 32-39 (-15).
Remaining fixtures - Hastings United: April 13 Hythe Town (h), April 20 Sittingbourne (a), April 22 Ashford United (h), April 27 Greenwich Borough (a).
Horsham: April 13 Herne Bay (a), April 20 Faversham Town (h), April 22 Guernsey (a).
Ashford United: April 13 Cray Wanderers (a), April 20 VCD Athletic (h), April 22 Hastings United (a), April 27 Haywards Heath Town (h).
Haywards Heath Town: April 13 Sevenoaks Town (h), April 20 Ramsgate (a), April 22 East Grinstead Town (h), April 27 Ashford United (a).