Darren Hare believes his Hastings United footballers have ‘a good chance’ of pulling off an FA Cup upset.
The U’s will travel to a Margate side which plays two levels higher up the non-league pyramid in third round qualifying today (Saturday).
United manager Hare said: “They will be decent, they will be a big threat, but I think we’ve got a good chance. We’ve got to make sure we’re right on the money and hopefully we can cause an upset.
“It’s a nice pitch and there’s no pressure on us. They watched us on Tuesday night (when United lost 3-2 away to Greenwich Borough in the league) and I think they will be concerned because we did play really well. If we can emulate that on Saturday, we will cause them problems. We’re certainly going to go there and pass the ball.”
Margate are 16th in National League South with 13 points from 12 games, while United are 12th in Ryman League Division One South with 12 points from eight matches.
United have come through three rounds to reach this stage, all of them away from home, without conceding a goal. Those victories have earned them £9,425 from the FA’s prize fund and another win tomorrow would secure a further £7,500.
Hare says that Steve Watt will come back in at centre-half after injury so Richard Davies is likely to shuffle across to right-back, with Myles Judd having returned to Leyton Orient after two games with the U’s.
United are hoping to keep fellow Orient youngster Victor Adeboyejo for a while longer, although he won’t be eligible tomorrow.
Sam Cruttwell is still on holiday and Barry Cogan is cup-tied, but Alex Akrofi - the striker signed from Maidstone United last Friday - should be available having been an unused substitute for Concord Rangers in the previous round.
Stephen Butcher is expected to return from injury in the league game at Molesey next Tuesday night, assuming the FA Cup clash doesn’t go to a replay. Sam Cole is around two weeks from fitness.
The U’s go into the tie off the back of successive narrow league losses away to top four opposition, but Hare isn’t disheartened with the way they’re playing.
“I can’t fault the players, they’re putting a shift in,” he continued. “The effort’s there, the willingness is there; what I think we’re missing at the moment is that little bit of Eye of the Tiger in both penalty areas.
“We’re very easy on the eye, and I’m really happy with how we build up play and pass the ball, but what wins games is what happens in both penalty areas.
“I think we certainly deserved to get something out of Tuesday night’s game. I thought we played ever so well and that’s the fourth time now the other team’s manager has said to me ‘you’re the best team we’ve played’, but I don’t want to hear that; I want to win some games.”
United are eight points outside the play-off places, though they do have games in hand on most other clubs.
“I would say at the moment we’re okay,” added Hare. “I don’t think we’ll be far away. Teams will drop points; we just need to go on a run. It’s too early in the season to start getting too concerned. I do think we’ll start converting some of the performances into wins.”
TODAY'S FOOTBALL FIXTURES
3rd round qualifying (3pm)
Margate v Hastings United
PARAFIX SUSSEX SENIOR CHALLENGE CUP
1st round (3pm)
Little Common v Selsey
MACRON STORE SOUTHERN COMBINATION FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Division 1 (3pm)
Bexhill United v Billingshurst
RYMAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE
U21 South Division (3pm)
Carshalton Athletic v Hastings United Development Squad
MACRON EAST SUSSEX FOOTBALL LEAGUE (3pm)
Eastbourne Rangers v Old Hastonians
Robertsbridge United v Ore Athletic
Rock-a-Nore v Hollington United
Sedlescombe Rangers v Hawkhurst United
Sidley United v Westfield II
St Leonards Social v Battle Baptists
Crowhurst v The JC Tackleway
Herstmonceux v Icklesham Casuals
Mountfield United v Northiam 75
Rye Town v Wadhurst United
Bexhill AAC v St Leonards Social II
Hastings Athletic v Burwash
Mayfield v Eastbourne Athletic
Peche Hill Select v Hastings Rangers
Westfield III v Ticehurst
Battle Baptists II v Orington
Bexhill Rovers v Bexhill United II
Catsfield v Hailsham Athletico
Punnetts Town v Sedlescombe Rangers II
Magham Down v Mayfield II
Parkfield v Sandhurst
The JC Tackleway v Victoria Baptists
West Hill United v Bexhill AAC II
Bexhill Spartans v Robertsbridge United II
Cranbrook Town v Battle Baptists III
Hampden Park v Wittersham II
Icklesham Casuals II v West Hill United II
Northiam 75 II v Sedlescombe Rangers III
SUSSEX BLUEFIN JUNIOR CUP
1st round (2.30pm)
Southwater II v Bexhill Town
Sovereign Saints v Hove United
See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!