U’s ordered to focus on Trophy
Sean Ray wants his players to forget about the FA Cup for the time being as Hastings United turn their attention to another potential money-spinning national knockout competition.
The U’s have reached the third qualifying round - dizzy heights for a club that had gone six years without a single win in the FA Cup - on the back of a superb 3-2 victory away to Blue Square Bet South Staines Town.
The success and an earlier defeat of Chatham Town has seen them pick up £7,500 in prize-money and they can double that amount if they see off Evo-Stik Premier Hitchin Town at The Pilot Field next Saturday.
“It’s given the club a lift,” said player-manager Ray. “It’s so nice to be in this position where we can start talking about the next round of the FA Cup - it’s what Non-League football is about.”
Before the Hitchin tie, however, Hastings face another important game today (Saturday) when they visit Ryman Premier rivals East Thurrock United in the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy, with the winners receiving £2,550.
“It’s important the FA Cup goes to the back of our minds because this is another big game,” Ray went on. “East Thurrock are a good side but it’s winnable. They’ve got a fair few good individuals but so do we and I’m just concerned with us.”
Zac Attwood lasted just nine minutes last weekend before suffering a recurrence of his hamstring injury but it is hoped the striker will return in time for the next round.
Josh Jirbandey and Tom Vickers, who were also both forced off through injury against Staines, should be fit for the trip to Essex.
TODAY’S SENIOR FOOTBALL FIXTURES (ALL 3PM)
FA Trophy, 1st qualifying round: East Thurrock Utd v Hastings Utd.
Sussex County League, Division 1: Rye Utd v Lingfield; Sidley Utd v Horsham YMCA.
Division 2: Broadbridge Heath v Bexhill Utd.
John O’Hara League Cup, 1st round: Westfield v Littlehampton Town.