Sean Ray will be looking for a dramatic improvement from his Hastings United team when they take on Hitchin Town in the FA Cup at The Pilot Field today (Saturday).
Up for grabs is £7,500 in prize-money and a place in the next round along with clubs from the Blue Square Bet Premier.
After that it’s the first round proper and the last time Hastings got that far was in the 2002-03 season. The U’s go into the third round qualifying tie having been thumped 4-0 by East Thurrock United in the FA Trophy last weekend.
Dubbing it as “men against kids” Ray was still upset some 72 hours after the game. “There are no excuses for performing like that. You are going to lose games during the course of a season but there’s a way to lose a game of football. What we did wasn’t acceptable,” he stormed.
“I will certainly be looking for a good performance this Saturday. It’s nice to be in this position (in the FA Cup) but first and foremost we’ve got to do our jobs properly. We’re so Jekyll and Hyde; when we’re good we’re very good but when we’re poor we have been very poor.
Hitchin, who sit 15th in the Evo-Stik Premier, go into the tie on the back of a 3-1 win against Sittingbourne in the Trophy. In the previous round of the FA Cup, they rolled over Whitehawk 5-0 in a replay. In the league, however, Hitchin have struggled of late, losing their last three games without scoring a single goal.
Striker Zac Attwood was due to have treatment on his troublesome hamstring this week and is rated 50/50 to make the squad. Ray, Matt Whitehead and Bailo Camara are all likely to start.
TODAY’S SENIOR FOOTBALL FIXTURES (ALL 3PM)
FA Cup 3rd round qualifying: HASTINGS UNITED v Hitchin Town.
Sussex County League Division 1: Lancing v RYE UNITED; SIDLEY UNITED v Selsey.
Division 2: BEXHILL UNITED v Littlehampton Town; LITTLE COMMON v Broadbridge Heath; Steyning Town v WESTFIELD.