Sean Ray believes there is no reason why Hastings United can’t return from their massive FA Cup first round tie away to Bishop’s Stortford with at least a draw.
Although the U’s will go into the game as underdogs, they are quietly confident of reaching the second round for the first time in the club’s history.
Bishop’s Stortford sit 18th in Blue Square Bet North - which is one level above the Ryman Premier - and contested a goalless draw in their most recent match at home to fourth-placed Oxford City on Tuesday night.
Hastings had them watched and while there is no way player-manager Ray is taking higher-grade opponents lightly, he is convinced he has the players to cause them problems at Woodside Park today (Saturday).
“We’ve got a few bits and pieces on them now so we’re quietly confident we can cause a little bit of an upset, but we’ve got to make sure we’re set up right on the day,” he said. “We know what we’ve got in our side and we know what we’re capable of.
“Bare minimum is a draw. There is no reason why we can’t go up there and get that. There is no reason why we can’t go up there and get a win.”
Around 350-400 Hastings fans are expected to cheer on the team. “They will be our 12th man,” said Ray. “We’re going up there to enjoy the day because as a club it’s already a great achievement to reach the first round.”
The winners will receive £18,000 in prize-money. If a replay is required it will be on Tuesday November 13.
Hastings will take a 16-man squad which will include reserve team goalkeeper Joe Winchester and the returning Tom Vickers.
One player unlikely to be involved is Jack Dixon who has been talking with Lewes about a possible move away from The Pilot Field. The midfielder/full back has grown frustrated at a lack of first team opportunities.
The only other time Hastings got this far in the world famous competition was 10 years ago when they were beaten 1-0 away to then Conference side Stevenage Borough.
The old Hastings United - which went out of business in 1985 - progressed to the first round no less than eight times. On two of those occasions they went on to reach the third round.