Hastings seek to recreate play-off magic 10 years on

Shomari Barnwell brings the ball under control during Hastings United's 3-3 draw at home to Chipstead on Saturday. Picture courtesy Scott White
Shomari Barnwell brings the ball under control during Hastings United's 3-3 draw at home to Chipstead on Saturday. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United Football Club will be hoping to recreate the magic of 2007 as it prepares for play-off action.

Ten years ago United won promotion from Ryman League Division One South via two away victories in the play-offs and they will be hoping for a repeat performance a decade on.

United will travel to Dorking Wanderers in the semi-finals tonight (Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm) and the winners will face Greenwich Borough or Corinthian-Casuals in the final on Saturday.

“At our level I’m not sure home advantage makes a huge difference,” said United manager Darren Hare. “And I think our current form has been fairly decent if you look at our recent performances.”

Dorking finished second in the league and only missed out on the title on goal difference after amassing 105 points from 46 points.

They were 23 points above fifth-placed United and won both matches between the clubs by a one-goal margin.

That said, United - the highest scorers in the top eight tiers of English football - scored 25 more goals than Dorking and possessed a better goal difference.

“I’ve got no qualms about going to Dorking,” continued Hare. “We’ll take a good travelling support with us and I think Dorking’s smaller pitch will suit our method of playing.

“It all depends on what happens on the day. If we give everything we’ve got, no-one can argue one way or the other. For me it’s all about them being the best they can be.”

United are unbeaten in their most recent five matches, although the last three all ended in draws. Dorking are undefeated in their last nine, winning eight of them.

Hare rested several of his more experienced players during the 3-3 draw against Chipstead on Saturday, so the likes of Frannie Collin, Ollie Rowe, Jerrome Sobers, Matt Bodkin and Simon Johnson should come back in tonight. The fitness of Stephen Butcher (hamstring) and Lenny Pidgeley (back) will be assessed.

United are running a coach to Dorking, leaving The Pilot Field at 4pm.

Travel on the coach is priced at £12 for adults, £10 for supporters’ club members and £5 for under-18s. Reservations will be taken on a first come, first served basis. To reserve a seat, email davidrussell881@hotmail.co.uk or call/text 07970 332270.

Paying adults and concessions who attend the play-off semi-final will receive a ticket on entry (from the Hastings United steward) that will grant them free entry to a Ryman League match of their choice at The Pilot Field next season.

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