Hastings United embark on an epic 300-mile round trip to Leiston today (Saturday) with player-boss Sean Ray mindful of the threat posed by bottom-of-the-table opposition.
The last thing Ray wants is for Hastings to return home from the Suffolk coast having become the first team in the league this season to lose at the hands of the Ryman Premier newboys.
Leiston have picked up only two points from their first five fixtures and are one of four teams in the division yet to taste victory.
“It’s difficult because it’s a long old journey. We did it last season in the League Cup (when Hastings won 1-0 thanks to a last minute Josh Jirbandey goal) and that was on a Tuesday night. It’s a difficult place to play and there’s a nice slope on the pitch,” said Ray.
“We need to make sure we don’t become the first side they beat,” he went on. “At this stage of the season the league table doesn’t mean too much and we need to be on top of our game. If we play to our potential we win the game.”
Ray also wants to see his team bounce back from the single goal defeat at home to Bury Town in their last league game, especially as Hastings’ next two weekends are taken up by matches in the main knockout competitions.
Striker Zac Attwood is rated 50-50 after tweaking his hamstring against Chatham Town last weekend but Bailo Camara comes into contention after recovering from a groin injury. Jono Richardson keeps his place in the centre of defence after impressing in the 3-1 win.
TODAY’S SENIOR FIXTURES (ALL 3PM)
Ryman League, Premier Division: Leiston v Hastings Utd.
Sussex County League, Division 1: Redhill v Rye Utd.
Division 2: Bexhill Utd v Midhurst & Easebourne; Rustington v Little Common; Southwick v Westfield.
John O’Hara League Cup, 2nd round: Sidley Utd v Lancing.