Hastings United Football Club goalkeeper Josh Pelling is facing an extended spell on the sidelines after his amazing ever-present record finally came to an end.
Pelling had played in every minute of every United league game since the start of the 2013/14 season until being stretchered off in the second half of Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Chipstead.
At first it was feared Pelling had suffered a broken leg as he waited almost two hours for an ambulance to arrive. After a trip to hospital, he eventually arrived home at 5.40am on Wednesday.
Although the injury is not as serious as first thought, United manager Garry Wilson expects Pelling’s lay-off to be fairly long-term due to suspected knee ligament damage.
The 24-year-old’s run of consecutive completed league matches in the end reached 112, and on many occasions he battled through injury and illness to take his place.
Wilson says that Matt Cruttwell, who has been playing for Little Common, is likely to deputise for the trip to Whyteleafe today (Saturday).
Matt Armstrong-Ford - United’s goalkeeper during their memorable run to the FA Cup third round in the 2012/13 season - was also due to train with the club on Thursday night.
As well as Pelling, United will be without Ollie Rowe today because the captain has a one-match ban for his late red card at Herne Bay a fortnight ago.
Billy Medlock is not suspended as his fifth yellow card came after the cut-off point at the end of November. Sam Cole and Sean Ray both picked up knocks against Chipstead.
“We’re under the cosh a bit, but when you’re up against it, you’ve got to show a bit of character,” said Wilson.
United are 14th in Ryman Football League Division One South, albeit with between four and seven games in hand on every other club.
They trail Whyteleafe by two places and four points, but have played six fewer matches. Today’s clash will be United’s second game in 11 days on an artificial 3G pitch.
“I would rather play on our pitch than a 3G pitch, but I would rather play on a 3G pitch than Chipstead’s on Tuesday night,” said Wilson, whose team has picked up four points over the past week having won 3-2 at home to Ramsgate last weekend.
“Saturday was a really great first half performance and their manager said it was the best display he’s seen on that first 45 minutes. We’re still striving for that consistency, but we’re in a really strong position. We just need to kick on and pick up the points.”
United are running a coach to Whyteleafe, leaving The Pilot Field at 11.30am. The cost is £12 for adults, with a £2 discount for supporters’ club members, and £5 for under-18s. Call Dave Russell on 07970 332270 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
TODAY’S FOOTBALL FIXTURES
(Kick-off 3pm unless stated)
Ryman League, Division 1 South: Whyteleafe v Hastings Utd.
Macron Store Southern Combination League,
Division 1: Langney Wanderers v Bexhill Utd 2; Little Common v Seaford Town.
Division 2 (2): Westfield v Roffey.
Reserve Section (East): Mile Oak v Westfield.
National Christian Cup, 2nd round (1.30): St Mary’s West Croydon v Battle Baptists.
Macron East Sussex League (2), Premier Division: Mountfield Utd v St Leonards Social; Ore Athletic v Robertsbridge Utd; Peche Hill Select v Hollington Utd; Rock-a-Nore v Sedlescombe Rangers.
Division 1: Crowhurst v Eastbourne Rangers; Old Hastonians v Sidley Utd; The JC Tackleway v Ticehurst; Wadhurst Utd v AFC Hastings.
Division 2: Bexhill AAC P Eastbourne Athletic P; Catsfield v Little Common III; Icklesham Casuals P Peche Hill Select II P; Peasmarsh Utd v Herstmonceux.
Division 3: Bexhill Utd II v Pebsham Sibex; Hooe Sports v Burwash; Mayfield P Westfield III P; Sedlescombe Rangers II v Orington; West Hill Utd P St Leonards Social II P.
Division 4: Battle Baptists II P The JC Tackleway II P; Bexhill Rovers P Conquest Utd P (Conquest suspended by Sussex County FA); Hailsham Athletico P Wittersham II P; Hawkhurst Utd II v Grasshoppers Old Boys; Victoria Baptists v Punnetts Town.
Division 5: Battle Baptists III v Sedlescombe Rangers III; Hampden Park Utd v Icklesham Casuals II; Parkfield v Sandhurst; Robertsbridge Utd II v Magham Down.
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