Hastings United boss won't get emotional about rare defeat

Hastings United boss Gary Elphick insists there’s no need for his team’s title bid to be thrown off-course by one defeat.

The Us slipped to a surprise 3-2 loss at home to in-form Burgess Hill last weekend – their first league reverse since November 27.

Elphick admitted Hastings did not defend well – conceding in the third minute and either side of half-time – but said the result should be seen in the context of their long recent unbeaten run. They have the perfect chance to put the loss behind them tomorrow when they visit the side immediately below them at the top of the table, Ashford United.

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The two have become big rivals in the division in recent seasons but Elphick said Hastings needed to treat the game like any other.

Sam Adams chases possession for Hastings v Burgess Hill / Picture: Scott White

He is sweating on the fitness of defender Finn O’Mara, who came off at half-time against the Hillians with a groin strain, having struggled in the first half.

Elphick said: “Firstly, it’s worth saying that Burgess Hill are a good side – they’ve improved remarkably since early in the season. But I think most neutrals would say we deserved a point from the game.

“Their keeper was incredible. He made two or three top-class saves and I was standing there thinking ‘It’s not going to be our day.’

“You shouldn’t be conceding three goals at home but I said to the players afterwards that they’d been on a fantastic run and just needed to dust themselves down and try to start another run.

Andrew Sesay on the ball in Hastings' loss to Burgess Hill / Picture: Scott White

“It’s a defeat but hopefully it’s just a blip. We won’t get too emotional about it. It’s one defeat in about ten league games, after all.”

Talking of emotion, Elphick wants his players to take the sting out of the trip to Ashford by forgetting any heated past rivalry with their fellow title challengers.

“We’ve been too tied up in the emotion of games against them and need to change that,” he said.

“The pressure is on Ashford. They are at home and need to win. They’ve recruited quite a number of players and it will be a hard game.”

Tom Chalmers goes close in the loss to the Hillians / Picture: Scott White

Ben Pope has a minor hip problem but Elphick does not intend to make many changes after last weekend’s result.

“I trust the players and there’s no need to rip up the team. They know what’s required of them,” he added.