Opportunity knocks for United

Sam Cruttwell on the ball during the reverse fixture between Hastings United and Cray Wanderers. Picture courtesy Scott White
Sam Cruttwell on the ball during the reverse fixture between Hastings United and Cray Wanderers. Picture courtesy Scott White
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Hastings United’s footballers have the chance move into the play-off places with a victory today (Sunday).

United will travel to Cray Wanderers with a real opportunity after the two sides immediately above them in the Ryman Football League Division One South table both lost yesterday. Kick-off is 3pm.

Hastings United forward Frannie Collin wins a header during January's 2-1 defeat at home to Cray. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United forward Frannie Collin wins a header during January's 2-1 defeat at home to Cray. Picture courtesy Scott White

Carshalton Athletic, who occupy the final play-off spot of fifth, were beaten 1-0 away to Sittingbourne, while sixth-placed Lewes went down 3-2 at home to fourth-placed Corinthian-Casuals.

That means that seventh-placed United are just two points outside the top five with two games in hand on all the teams above them - and they have a better goal difference than everybody bar leaders Tooting & Mitcham United.

Today’s game is the first of five in 14 days which will determine whether or not United make the play-offs. And they will be eager to hit straight back after last weekend’s 1-0 defeat away to bottom club Godalming Town.

But it won’t be easy. Cray, who play their home matches at Bromley FC, are four places and 10 points worse off than United, but were 2-1 winners in January’s reverse fixture at The Pilot Field.

First choice goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley is expected to miss the game with the back injury which forced him off against Godalming and kept him off work on Monday and Tuesday.

Simon Johnson is doubtful with a pulled calf, but Stephen Butcher and Bradley Stevenson should return to the squad following illness and injury respectively.

“I’m going to make a few changes on Sunday,” said United manager Darren Hare. “Not necessarily the personnel, but certainly the shape. We’re going to try and get our mojo back and go a little bit more up-front, pushing on, pressing, trying to make it hard for Cray.”

Ryman Division One South top half (played 43 matches unless stated): 1 Tooting & Mitcham United 101pts (+66 goal difference), 2 Dorking Wanderers 96 (+55), 3 Greenwich Borough 88 (+44), 4 Corinthian-Casuals 84 (+32), 5 Carshalton Athletic 75 (+35), 6 Lewes 74 (+14), 7 HASTINGS UNITED (41) 73 (+57), 8 Hythe Town 72 (+17), 9 Faversham Town 70 (+31), 10 South Park (42) 67 (+13), 11 Cray Wanderers (42) 63 (+1), 12 Walton Casuals 61 (0).

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