United show more encouraging signs
Hastings United Football Club showed further positive signs ahead of the new season during its latest two friendlies.
The U's followed a 3-1 defeat at home to higher grade Welling United on Saturday with a 6-2 victory at Eastbourne Town last night (Tuesday).
After an encouraging first half against Welling - who play two levels above United in National League South - ended goalless, Frannie Collin put United ahead with a slightly fortunate goal following a long throw.
United were good value for their advantage until conceding three times in the last 10 minutes (the last goal was a penalty) following the substitution of goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley.
"I was really pleased with how we played against Welling," said United manager Darren Hare. "It was a very, very good performance against a good side. I thought we were the better side and deserved our goal. We worked hard and played well."
Three days later, a Harry Stannard hat-trick - featuring a wonder goal on the volley - two goals from Jack Harris and one from Sam Cole clinched victory over last season's Macron Store Southern Combination Football League runners-up Eastbourne.
United twice led in the first half only for Town to equalise on both occasions and it stayed 2-2 until the 65th minute, but United ran away with it following the substitutions.
"We didn't feel the first half performance was up to the level I was expecting," said Hare. "Second half we were much, much better and scored some very good goals. I was really pleased. Jack Harris was outstanding and the real plus was Harry Stannard."
United have now played five of their seven pre-season friendlies and next up is a visit from neighbours Westfield next Tuesday night, kick-off 7.45pm.
Hare says all first team players will get some minutes in that game and a few youngsters will also feature. Admission is Â£4 for adults and Â£2 for concessions, with under-18s going free.
United's final friendly is at home to Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday August 6 and they will begin their Ryman League Division One South campaign with a visit from South Park seven days later.
A few players are carrying knocks at present, but Hare expects them to be fit for the league opener.
Collin came off in the early stages of last night's game with a tight hamstring which Hare believes may be connected to the sore neck he was experiencing before kick-off. The forward is due to see a physio on Friday.
Simon Johnson is again nursing a sore Achilles, but should be fit by the start of the season, while Bright Temba is thought to be around 10 days from returning to action.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.1 Make this website your homepage2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!