United attacking boost for Bank Holiday double

Sam Cruttwell on the ball for Hastings United against Cray Valley (PM) last weekend. Picture courtesy Scott White

Sam Cruttwell on the ball for Hastings United against Cray Valley (PM) last weekend. Picture courtesy Scott White

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Hastings United Football Club is set for a welcome boost of firepower for a double bill of Bank Holiday action.

The striker crisis which gripped United for last weekend’s FA Cup clash away to Cray Valley (PM) has eased for the league games away to Chipstead today (Saturday) and at home to East Grinstead Town on Monday.

Jack Harris will remain sidelined by his ankle injury, but Jay May is back and should be fit enough to start both matches.

Frannie Collin has regained fitness and is likely to be on the bench today, while Bright Temba - who like Collin has been out since pre-season - trained on Tuesday night and is available for selection.

United do have one or two issues in defence, however. Richard Davies is unavailable, while manager Darren Hare says he might rest Steve Watt today with a view to bringing him back on Monday. Watt’s been in the wars with a broken toe, sore calf and a black eye.

Hare has recalled Richie Welch from AFC Uckfield Town and he could well slot in at full-back as United seek to add to the four points they picked up in their opening two Ryman Football League Division One South matches.

Harry Stannard on the charge against Cray Valley (PM). Picture courtesy Scott White

Harry Stannard on the charge against Cray Valley (PM). Picture courtesy Scott White

Chipstead have picked up one point from a possible six so far, while Grinstead have yet to get off the mark. Both clubs finished in the bottom five last season.

“It’s still early days, but we certainly need to win one out of the two, if not win one and draw one,” said Hare, who added that his team might have a slightly different shape against Grinstead. “It’s important we get a bit of momentum going at this early stage.

“I would like to win every game obviously, but we’re unbeaten and we want to continue that unbeaten run up to 10 games if we possibly can.”

With United scheduled to play 10 matches between now and the end of September, Hare says he is looking to add to his squad.

“There’s a couple on the radar at the moment,” he said. “I had a chat with the board of directors the other day and they’re still fully supportive of me strengthening if I need to.

“We’re still looking to add one or two. I don’t really want to rely on the loan market if I can help it, but I’ll probably have to dip into it at some stage.”

Hare regarded the 2-0 victory at Cray Valley as a case of ‘job done’ and is looking forward to another away tie, against Camberley Town, in first round qualifying on Saturday September 3.

“I was pleased to get through,” he said. “I was nervous going into the game I have to say, but I thought we approached the game in the appropriate manner.

“We had a good report on them, we knew their strengths and we nullified that pretty well. We got the shape right and we did fine.”

United are running a coach to Chipstead, leaving The Pilot Field at 11.45am. The cost is £20 for adults, £15 for supporters’ club members and £8 for under-18s. To book a place, email davidrussell881@hotmail.co.uk or call 07970 332270.

TODAY'S FOOTBALL FIXTURES

RYMAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Division 1 South (3pm)

Chipstead v Hastings United

MACRON STORE SOUTHERN COMBINATION FOOTBALL LEAGUE (3pm)
Division 1

Selsey v Little Common
St Francis Rangers v Bexhill United

Division 2
Westfield v Cowfold

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

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