Ray targets change of FA Cup fortune

Josh Jirbandey on the ball for Hastings United against Bury Town last weekend. Picture by TERRY S. BLACKMAN
Josh Jirbandey on the ball for Hastings United against Bury Town last weekend. Picture by TERRY S. BLACKMAN

Sean Ray is hoping to “put right” Hastings United’s miserable recent run in the FA Cup when they take on Chatham Town at The Pilot Field today (Saturday).

The U’s have failed to win a single match in the world famous competition for an incredible five seasons, going out at the first time of asking against the likes of Ramsgate, Dartford, Farnborough, Bognor Regis Town and Cray Wanderers.

The defeats have proved very costly because a good run in the cup can generate thousands of pounds in prize-money, with the winners of this weekend’s first qualifying round tie receiving £3,000.

“It’s about time we did something in the FA Cup but we’ve been saying that every year,” said player-boss Ray who was in the team the last time Hastings won in the FA Cup, 2-0 away to Dartford in September 2006.

“This is something I want to put right this Saturday,” he went on aware that a good run can have a huge impact on not just the football club but the town as a whole, as was the case in 2002 when Hastings reached the first round proper.

“It’s happened at clubs at our level before and it’s all about the luck of the draw. You never know but you’ve got to be in it to get that luck of the draw.”

Chatham, who sit fifth in Ryman Division One North - the division below Hastings - won 2-1 at home to Sussex County League Division One side Peacehaven & Telscombe in the last round.

The likes of Jono Richardson, Danny Ellis, Dee Okojie, Jack Dixon and Ray himself are all in contention to start.

Forward Bailo Camara is the only absentee as he continues his recovery from a groin injury.

TODAY’S SENIOR FOOTBALL FIXTURES (3PM)

FA Cup 1st round qualifying: Hastings Utd v Chatham Town.

SCFA RUR Charity Cup, 2nd round: Selsey v Rye Utd.

Sussex County League, Division 1: Shoreham v Sidley Utd.

Division 2: Loxwood v Little Common; Midhurst & Easebourne v Westfield.

John O’Hara League Challenge Cup, 2nd round: Storrington v Bexhill Utd.