Hastings United v Ashford United – all you need to know

Action from Hastings United v VCD Athletic on Saturday. Picture by Scott White
Action from Hastings United v VCD Athletic on Saturday. Picture by Scott White

On Saturday at 3pm it’s the game we’ve been waiting for.

The clash of the United’s and the top-of-the-table battle between first and second.

League leaders Hastings United take on second-placed Ashford United, the only team to have beaten United in the league this season.

Form and status

Hastings United have lived under the pressure of being league-leaders since they reached the summit on December 3 following a 3-1 away win at Whitstable Town.

On Tuesday night they came away from a tough game against third-placed Whitehawk with a precious point.

Twice they recovered from losing a goal to equalise through Ben Pope, who has gone on a scoring spree with eight goals since the new year.

United’s form at the Pilot Field was dented when Herne Bay held them to a scoreless draw at the end of January but otherwise their home form is excellent having won eleven times and drawn just that once.

Ashford are top of the form guide having won five and lost once in their last six games.

They’ve scored twenty and conceded just four goals in this run.

Though, and without diminishing their achievement, it is notable four of those games were against teams in the lower echelons of the table, whilst their defeat was away to play-off chasing Cray Valley PM.

Indeed, they lost at home to Cray Valley as well.

On Tuesday night they continued their impressive away form with a 1-0 victory at Sittingbourne.

All told whilst on the road they have won eight times, drawn once and lost three times.

Recent meetings

On Saturday December 14, unbeaten United were top with Ashford in fourth.

United had won their previous two games, Ashford had just lost two on the trot.

But a sharp opening twenty-five minutes by the hosts saw them score the only goal of the game midway through the first half and United tasted league defeat for the one and only time this season.

Bottom line

United have been top since the start of December and Ashford have been hanging onto United’s coat-tails since January 1.

The gap between the two briefly reached six points but, as it is today, it has mostly been just four points.

And with Ashford recently thumping both Burgess Hill Town (7-0) and East Grinstead Town (5-0), United’s goal difference advantage has been virtually wiped out.

It is the second big game of the week for United. The outcome will have a significant bearing on the remainder of the season.

A win for United will put them seven points clear, a win for Ashford will reduce the gap to just one point; and of course a draw will leave everything as-is.

All with thirteen games remaining.

This is one match not to be missed.