HAYES & Yeading United are in a relegation dogfight, boss Tony O’Driscoll admitted after a disastrous Easter.
Their second 4-1 defeat in as many days at home to Havant and Waterlooville on Monday means the drop, unthinkable a month earlier, is a real danger with United two points above the relegation zone and without a win in five league games.
Matches against the two teams directly below them, Staines Town and Tonbridge Angels, in the coming days will prove vital as Tony O’Driscoll’s side attempt to banish the growing fears of relegation.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while, the possibility is there all the time,” O’Driscoll said. “The games coming up are against teams around us, so it’s in our hands.
“If you get relegated losing to teams around you, you deserve to go down. But I think effort-wise, we don’t deserve to go down.”
In Saturday’s sorry loss at Billericay Town, four of the five second-half goals were scored by the hosts and even Calum Butcher’s strike was somewhat lucky.
But the Hampshire club were fortunate with their first goal on Monday, with Steve Ramsey’s free kick deflecting past young keeper Milan Stojsavljevic, making his United debut.
The hosts had only half chances in the opening period but emerged from the break stronger, twice going close with long shots before Daniel Wishart hit the bar after a 55th minute run.
Stojsavljevic handed back the initiative to Havant in the 63rd minute, dropping a cross to allow the league’s top scorer Ollie Palmer to put them 2-0 up.
Visiting keeper Clark Masters was to blame 11 minutes later, as his clearance went straight to Luke Williams, whose clinical finish had United’s fans hoping for a comeback.
Within two minutes the two-goal deficit had been restored, Palmer powering past three defenders and finishing, and another two minutes later Hayes’ heads dropped further as substitute Tom Collins’ penalty was saved after he was fouled in the box.
Palmer completed his hat-trick in the 92nd minute by finishing from a Kelvin Bossman pass.
“We keep going behind to silly goals, getting back into games and then things like that happen, with the penalty,” O’Driscoll added. “We’ve got so many young players that straight away we’re on the back foot then, the heads go down.”