United sign Barnet keeper

Hastings United's game at Enfield Town is due to go ahead
Hastings United's game at Enfield Town is due to go ahead

Hastings United have signed goalkeeper Liam O’Brien in time for their big game at Middlesbrough today (Saturday).

The 21-year-old has joined the Ryman League Premier Division outfit on a month’s loan with regular number one Matt Armstrong-Ford doubtful for the FA Cup third round tie because of a knee injury.

O’Brien has made 22 senior appearances for the Bees. Speaking from the team hotel at the Newcastle Hilton this morning (Saturday), assistant manager Mark Stapley said: “He’s 6ft 4in and he was number one at Barnet until they got Graham Stack.”

The squad arrived at their hotel - which is located next to the Tyne Bridge - at around 5pm yesterday after a 45-minute wait at motorway services (around an hour from Newcastle) while a replacement coach arrived after the original one developed a fault.

Some of the players went for a swim at the hotel yesterday evening before settling down for bed at around 10pm. Stapley and player-manager Sean Ray stayed up looking at scouting reports from various league clubs on Middlesbrough’s patterns of play and set-pieces.

This morning the squad have done some interviews for BBC television show Football Focus (which will be shown at 12.15pm) and the players have been watching their own efforts at the Crossbar Challenge (filmed at The Pilot Field on Wednesday afternoon) on Sky Sports programme Soccer AM.

They will leave the hotel at 12noon and travel by coach (which has already arrived at the hotel) to get to The Riverside Stadium for around 1-1.15pm. Kick-off in the biggest game ever for the present day Hastings United is 3pm.

Stapley added: “We’re confident to be honest. We’ll go there and give it our best shot.” Join us this afternoon for the pre-match team news, updates during the game and post-match interviews, plus follow all the action as it happens by following @HastingsObs on Twitter.