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Maidstone United manager Hakan Hayrettin playing it cool before top-of-the-table game at Dorking Wanderers

Manager Hakan Hayrettin could hardly be more relaxed going into Maidstone’s top-of-the-table clash at Dorking.

It’s a game everyone’s been talking about for weeks, with both sides in exceptional form at the National League South summit.

Maidstone United manager Hakan Hayrettin. Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone United manager Hakan Hayrettin. Picture: Steve Terrell

Wanderers have won 12 of their last 13 games - a 3-1 home defeat by Tonbridge their only blemish since December - while the Stones are unbeaten in 14 matches, their best run in 10 years.

It has all the makings of a classic this Saturday as second-placed Maidstone bid to move level on points with the leaders but Hayrettin, whose side have won their past five matches, is playing it cool.

“I’m not going to talk it up,” said Hayrettin.

“Why would I? I’ve got nearly 700 games under my belt, why am I going to talk this up?

“The league positions make no difference to me, it’s just another game.

“As long as my team do the best they possibly can to try and get a result, that’s all that interests me.

“Are we the two best teams in the league? I don’t know.

“I know we’re good and I know they’re good, but I also know Oxford are good and Ebbsfleet are good and Dartford are good. All these teams are good.”

Maidstone lost 2-0 at home to Dorking in October after hitting the woodwork three times with the game goalless.

Wanderers weren’t in the best of form back then but they’ve been virtually unstoppable in the past few months.

The same goes for the Stones, who last weekend beat third-placed Oxford City 2-1 to continue their unbeaten run, and they also have a game in hand on the leaders.

Dorking enjoy the spending power but Maidstone have a couple of wise old heads at the helm in Hayrettin and Terry Harris, whose knowledge and contacts appear to be making up for the difference in budgets.

“They’ve got good players,” said Hayrettin. “Recruitment is key. We can’t compete with them financially.

“I know what some of the players are on - we can’t afford that.

“Everyone says we’re full-time but we aren’t full-time, let me get that message out there.

“We train one day more than the other teams and that day is a day for recovery.

“If you’re full-time, you’re in four days a week, maybe five. We aren’t full-time.”

Striker Jack Barham is set to face his former club after missing the Oxford win through illness but midfielder Regan Booty is banned after picking up his second red card of the season.

His place could be taken by youngster Johl Powell, who has joined the Stones on loan from Charlton.

Hayrettin has a decision to make in goal with Tom Hadler available after completing a three-match ban following his dismissal against Ebbsfleet last month.

Hadler had made the shirt his own since regaining his place from Millwall loanee Ryan Sandford in November but Yusuf Mersin is also in the manager’s thoughts.

“I don’t know what we’ll do,” said Hayrettin. “We haven’t lost since Yusuf played, have we?

“We’ll have to make a decision.

“I think Tom’s improved because the back four have played better, so we need to keep that going.”

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