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Coronavirus Kent: Maidstone United head coach Hakan Hayrettin speaks about National League decision to continue playing

Maidstone head coach Hakan Hayrettin accepted the National League’s decision to let matches go ahead despite coronavirus concerns.

The Premier League and Football League suspended play until next month but the National League decided not to follow suit, ruling games in their three divisions could continue as normal.

Maidstone United head coach Hakan Hayrettin Picture: Andy Jones
Maidstone United head coach Hakan Hayrettin Picture: Andy Jones

Five matches were called off in the top flight on Saturday but there was a full programme in the South Division, including the Stones’ 3-0 defeat at Eastbourne Borough, and only one game off in the North.

Asked if he had any concerns about playing, Hayrettin said: “Not really. We had to come and do a job and that’s what we tried to do.

“It was ironic the ones above have all called their games off.”

As for the players, Hayrettin added: “No problem at all. Obviously there’s going to be little murmurs and rumours and people are going to say things but if you’ve got to do a job, you’ve got to do a job.”

The Premier League and Football League made their announcement on Friday morning, with the National League’s decision arriving around mid-afternoon, following a board meeting.

Hayrettin said: “I was waiting for our secretary, like I always do, to let me know if the game was on.

“I think I left the club about 3pm and I got a text later on saying all games were on.”

It was a frustrating afternoon for Hayrettin, formally in charge for the first time after taking the reins from head of football John Still on Monday.

He saw goalkeeper Chris Lewington punch the ball into his own net as Maidstone trailed just before half-time.

And there was controversy in the build up to Boro’s second when Greg Luer dangled out a foot to stop George Elokobi’s quick free-kick, an incident missed by referee Jack Packman.

A third soon followed as Maidstone suffered a fifth defeat in six matches.

Despite that, it’s as you were in the play-off picture with United five points behind Dorking with two games in hand.

Maidstone United goalkeeper Chris Lewington scored an own goal Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone United goalkeeper Chris Lewington scored an own goal Picture: Steve Terrell

Hayrettin said: “The wind didn’t help Chrissy and he’s punched it in his own net.

“He’s anticipated it’s going to go a little bit further but it held up, he’s punched it in, so that’s a mistake by Chrissy but it happens, and he’s been fantastic for us this season.

“For the second one, If I speak my mind, I’ll probably get in trouble.

“The player’s not even four or five yards away from George.

“That was a killer blow for us because he’s gone to take a quick free-kick and he’s impeded it.

"The worst thing about all this, the referee wasn’t even watching where the ball was, he was looking away.”

Hayrettin says Maidstone are in transition following the managerial handover but he expects better.

“We’re in a transitional period. These boys have got to work hard to convince us if they want to be here or not,” he said.

“We have to do better. We’ve got to be ruthless in both boxes, especially second half.

“We had loads of chances to put the ball in the net. They didn’t have as many as us and they scored three.”

Maidstone are due at Billericay on Tuesday but will await further guidance from the league.

Hayrettin said: “We’ll be in training on Monday, ready to go to work, but we need men now, we need men who are going to stand up and be counted.

“We don’t need people that are going to be timid in both boxes. We need to be ruthless.”

Read more: The latest sports news in Kent


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