United out to avoid FA Cup banana skin
Hastings United Football Club will be out to avoid a potential banana skin in the FA Cup today (Saturday).
Bostik League Division One South club will travel to Sheppey United, who play one level below them in the Southern Counties East League Premier Division, in the preliminary round. Kick-off is 3pm.
United manager Adam Hinshelwood said: “The club’s got good history in the competition and a few of the players that played in the team which went to Middlesbrough a few years ago are back in the squad this year.
“We’ve had Sheppey watched twice, like we would any opposition. They’ve got nothing to lose really, and if we go there thinking ‘we’ve had a couple of good results, we’re the finished article’, we’re going to be in for a shock. It’s important we don’t let that happen.”
Influential midfielder Simon Johnson will return, while defenders Ollie Rowe and Tom Climpson, and back-up goalkeeper Louis Rogers, hope to be fit in time for next weekend’s league game at Ramsgate.
Hinshelwood has been pleased with the results, but not the performances during the opening week of the season.
United have picked up four points from two difficult league games, winning 2-1 at home to Corinthian-Casuals on Saturday and drawing 1-1 away to Carshalton Athletic on Monday.
Hinshelwood said: “I’m happy with the results we’ve gained, but not really with our performances. They’ve been two tough games against two good teams and both will fancy their chances of being up there.
“Both teams have almost changed their system to accommodate us, which made it difficult, but we’ve been a bit careless in possession. I don’t think we’ve kept the ball at all well enough and we need to make more chances.
“I want us to be expansive, but because we’re giving the ball away while our full-backs are both pushed on, it leaves us open and teams are slicing through us.
“We rode our luck definitely on Monday night. They hit the outside of the post and were a bit wasteful in good areas.
“I feel like we had better performances in terms of keeping possession and creating chances (in the pre-season friendlies) against Worthing and Burgess Hill, and we ended up losing and drawing those games.
“By no means are we patting ourselves on the back thinking the job’s done. Me and Aggy (assistant manager Chris Agutter) are both not happy with it. We know we’ve got to be better.
“In two games we’ve not worked the opposition goalkeeper anywhere near enough. But it’s good that we’re gaining points and still learning at the same time.
“What I have been pleased with is I think we’ve defended set-pieces a lot better (than in pre-season). We’re not the biggest team in the world so we’ve got to compete when the ball comes in the box and we’ve done that well.”
Curtis Gayler made his debut against Carshalton and Hinshelwood has made an arrangement with Burgess Hill Town boss Ian Chapman that the midfielder will be with Hastings until the end of September.
“He’s a talented lad,” added Hinshelwood, who managed Gayler at former club Worthing. “He can play anywhere in midfield really, and likes to get forward and score goals. He’s coming back from an ACL injury so the more he plays, the better you will see from him.”