Player-boss Sean Ray has described Hastings United’s FA Cup win away to Hitchin Town as his ‘best day in football management’.
The 2-1 triumph on Monday night means the U’s are now just one victory away from the first round proper and a possible tie against Football League opposition.
Standing in their way are lower grade Blackfield & Langley who visit The Pilot Field for what will be a massive fourth qualifying round tie next Saturday.
Ray settled the replay with a thumping header at Hitchin’s Top Field ground after Bradley Goldberg had opened the scoring with his fifth goal in the competition.
The last time Hastings reached this far was 10 years ago when they went on to lose 1-0 away to Stevenage Borough - who were then a Conference side - in the first round.
The day after the hard-fought but deserved victory, he said: “A week is a long time in football. This time last week I was really down and upset (following an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to East Thurrock United in the FA Trophy) and we’ve followed it up with my best day in football management so far.
“It’s reward for the players because some of the boys had to take time off work so they lost money but nights like last night make it all worthwhile. I can’t fault the players; it was a good day for everyone.”
Hastings visit winless Carshalton Athletic in the Ryman League today (Saturday). Jack Dixon and captain Lee Carey are unavailable, while Goldberg is likely to rest a niggling back injury. Tom Vickers and Scott Manning return.
TODAY’S SENIOR FOOTBALL FIXTURES (ALL 3PM)
Ryman League, Premier Division: Carshalton Athletic v Hastings Utd.
FA Vase, 1st round: Rye Utd v Horley Town.
SCFA Senior Cup, 1st round: Loxwood v Sidley Utd.
SCFA RUR Charity Cup, 2nd round: Dorking Wanderers v Westfield.
Sussex County League, Division 2: Bexhill Utd v Saltdean Utd.
John O’Hara League Challenge Cup, 2nd round: Redhill v Little Common.