“My players were worried.” So said Hastings United boss Gary Elphick after a 1-0 win on a difficult pitch at Whitstable.
Although he never feared his side would lose the game, he did fear he may lose some of his players in the 90 minutes on the Kent coast.
He said: “Where the pitch was so bad, my players were genuinely worried about their striking foot and slipping over awkwardly.”
With conditions being so unforgiving, Elphick was full of praise for his side’s character in the game, with Kenny Pogue’s late winner clinching three points that kept the Us clear at the top of the Isthmian south east table.
“We never looked like we we’re going to lose the game and it was fantastic when we clinched the win when we did with Kenny Pogue,” he said.
“We’re in a great run of form at the moment, we’ve just got to trust the process and take each game as it comes and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Hastings’ inability to get out of the south east division because of two curtailed campaigns have been well-chronicled but Elphick believes his side have still taken a step up from last year – and notes how his staff have helped them to the top.
“The improvement has been incredible really, I always felt confident in our own ability and in the coaching staff to improve the team, but I can’t believe how quick it’s actually happened. So that’s all credit to the lads and how they have taken on the information and applied themselves.”
With just two goals conceded in nine league games Elphick is delighted with how his team have defended recently and struggles to point a finger at any star player.
“The number of clean sheets we’ve kept has all been because of the defence and goalkeeper collectively.,” he added. “We are very keen on pressurising from the front as well so when we defend, we defend as a team.
“It would be rude of me to pick out one player, but obviously the signings have helped with Finn O’Mara and Andrew Sesay on the wing, but it’s been a collective effort.”
In-form Burgess Hill visit tomorrow and Elphick said: “It’s huge, they are a former club of mine and second in the form table behind us so it’s one we cannot take lightly.”