After Hastings United’s 1-1 home draw with Hythe Town last Saturday they need just three points from their last three games in the Bostik League South-East to qualify for the promotion play-offs in the week beginning 29th April.

Two of these three will be played away against lowly opponents Sittingbourne and Greenwich Borough, with a home match on Easter Monday against promotion rivals Ashford United sandwiched in between, so that doesn’t seem a big ask. But manager Chris Agutter will be stressing to his players that they need maximum points (nine from three wins) to end the season with 72, which would raise their average over the season to exactly 2 points per game. Anything less, and their promotion hopes will depend not only on defeating their South-East League rivals in semi-final and final knockout games, but also on adventitious results from six other play-off contests across the national eighth tier. As previously explained in this column, only five out of seven winners of these contests will be promoted, the two who finish their regular league season with the lowest points per game will stay down. And already the news from the six competing leagues is that in none of them is the currently second-placed team averaging below two. 

That’s not fatal in itself to United’s prospects. Each play-off contest will be something of a lottery. Fourth- or fifth-placed teams with lower point averages may win one or more of them. But if you’re a dedicated follower of Hastings’ fortunes, you’ll be keeping your calculator at the ready.

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