The time for experimenting is almost over as Hastings United Football Club prepares for its final pre-season friendly.
Bostik Football League Division One South outfit United will host Bostik Premier club Worthing tomorrow (Saturday) in their last run-out before the serious stuff starts next weekend. Kick-off at The Pilot Field is 3pm.
“Like any team in the country when they’ve got a new manager and new players coming together, it takes a while to gel and get my ideas across, but I think that seems to be going well,” said United manager Adam Hinshelwood, who will be up against his former club tomorrow.
“We will have played three on the bounce on Saturdays (against teams) from the league above, and the first two we’ve competed well and been a match for them, which bodes well, but we won’t let any more complacency creep in. There’s still a hell of a lot of hard work to go.”
Ollie Rowe is back from holiday and will need some game-time, Michael Aziaya will be assessed after taking a knock and Billy Medlock will also be assessed having been ill since last weekend.
United have contested two more friendlies over the past week, winning 4-2 away to Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Premier Division side Chichester City on Tuesday night after losing 2-1 at home to Bostik Premier team Burgess Hill Town on Saturday.
“They’ve both been good exercises really against good opposition from the league above and the league below,” Hinshelwood continued. “I’ve seen some players playing in different positions, which was important.”
United led at the break against Burgess Hill thanks to a long range Lee Carey free kick, but conceded twice after the turnaround to suffer their first pre-season defeat in the driving rain.
United: Rogers, Pritchard, Beale, Carey, Aziaya, Climpson, Rodari, Dixon, Harris, Dullaway, Janneh. Subs: Vickers, Cruttwell, Medlock, Fielding, Rodrigues-Barbosa.
After a scoreless first half against Chichester, there were four goals in the opening 10 minutes of the second period. Jack Harris and Sam Cruttwell put United two-up only for Chichester to reply with two quick goals of their own.
Davide Rodari put United ahead again on the hour with his fourth pre-season goal and this time they preserved the lead, Simon Johnson completing the scoring on 73 minutes.
It was another useful run-out for a United side missing the likes of Aziaya, Jack Dixon, Medlock, Josh Pelling and Rowe.
Of the Burgess Hill match, Hinshelwood said: “I thought it was a really competitive game. The first 20, 25 minutes we dominated possession, but didn’t really scare their goalkeeper too much.
“That’s one thing we put to the players to put right on Tuesday night. We didn’t do too good a job of that first half. We should’ve been at least four or five goals up at half time, but we were really wasteful with our decision-making.
“We went and scored two goals, but showed a bit of naivety and took our foot off the gas to let them back in the game. Again it’s good that we’re seeing that stuff in pre-season and putting that to bed before the season.
“We’re a young squad, but there was enough experience on that pitch for that not to happen and it can’t happen again.
“I think we’re playing some really good football and teams are having to change their shape to deal with the way we’re playing. But with the dominance we’re having with the ball, I think it’s important in those dominant spells we’re backing it up with some goals.”
Hinshelwood was relieved on Wednesday when international clearance came through for Rodari, who has settled quickly into the senior ranks since making the step up from the academy squad.
“I’ve been pleased with the fixtures that we managed to get in pre-season and the thing I’ve been happy about is the different style of player in each position, like a defensive right-back and an attacking right-back,” added Hinshelwood. “We’ve got those options throughout the squad.
“I think we’ve acquitted ourselves quite well in pre-season and the young lads have done well.”
A young United side won 3-1 away to Rochester United last Thursday night.
United will begin their league campaign with a home game against Corinthian-Casuals next Saturday (August 12).