Hastings United Football Club manager Adam Hinshelwood is relishing the prospect of an attractive-looking but difficult Emirates FA Cup tie.
Bostik League Division One South outfit Hastings will travel to Bostik Premier Division team Dulwich Hamlet in first round qualifying today (Saturday). Kick-off is 3pm.
Hinshelwood said: “Ideally you would probably want a home tie against lower opposition and have more of a chance of progressing, but these are the games you want to be part of and the type of opposition you want to be playing against regularly. It’s a great test for everybody.”
Dulwich only missed out on promotion to National League South after losing the play-off final to Bognor Regis Town at the end of last term.
The South Londoners have picked up eight points from their opening five league games this season and their 2-1 win at home to 2016/17 Bostik Division One South champions Tooting & Mitcham United on Monday was watched by a bumper crowd of 1,866.
“I’ve been to Dulwich with teams before, and it’s a great place to go and play,” continued Hinshelwood, whose Hastings side has picked up seven points from four league games so far.
“There’s going to be a big crowd, particularly with no Premier League football on Saturday, and I’m sure we’ll take a few as well.
“We’ve got nothing to lose really. We’ll go there with no fear, look to give a good account of ourselves and hopefully come out with a result. But they’re a good side and I like the way the management team there play their football.”
The early weeks of the season have brought plenty of injury issues for Hastings, but Hinshelwood hopes to have left-back Sam Beale and centre-half Tom Climpson back for tomorrow’s game.
Jack Harris may also recover from the contact injury which meant he could only hobble through the closing stages of Monday’s league defeat at home to Lewes.
Simon Johnson still doesn’t quite have the full range of movement in his quad after picking up a dead leg in the previous round of the FA Cup at Sheppey United two weeks ago.
And Tom Vickers is definitely out with the ankle injury which he valiantly played through to complete the Lewes match. The defender went for an x-ray after the game and may have suffered ligament damage, but the severity of the problem won’t be known until the swelling has subsided.
“Tom’s come in and worked his socks off,” said Hinshelwood. “He came back earlier than most of the squad for pre-season to try and get fit, and he wants to get even fitter.
“He was excellent in a different position at Ramsgate (where Hastings won 2-1 on Saturday) and it’s a real shame for him.”
With Harris and Vickers struggling to move, Hastings really were walking wounded at the end of a Lewes match in which they were already down to 10 men following Ollie Rowe’s red card.
“We gave a good account of ourselves with eight players against a top team,” added Hinshelwood. “Looking back on it I would like us to be better on the ball, but we’re still giving teams a good game even with using the whole squad that we’ve got.
“We’re only going to get better and I think that bodes well. It’s a new group together learning each other’s game and we’re going to get better in time.”