As the ‘U’s prepare for their FA Cup First Qualifying Round tie against Worthing FC, the first meeting of the two sides in the competition since the 1946-47 season presents several interesting stories. For two of the most successful non-league sides in Sussex, another chance to face off could potentially produce one of the ties of the round.
Of 116 ties to take place this weekend, the meeting at Pilot Field is the only to feature two Sussex teams, and despite the sides having not met in a competitive game since the 2015-16 season there will be several reasons for familiarity.
While there have been several players to move between the ‘U’s and Rebels, more attention this weekend will be on the reunion between Chris Agutter and Adam Hinshelwood, as the latter’s Worthing side makes the trip east and Agutter, his former assistant, aims to spring an upset by overcoming the division’s difference between the two.
As well as serving up that plot line, the tie will draw attention as the most common fixture of all 116 matches at this stage of the competition, having been played 11 times between 1905 and 1946.
Twitter page @FACupFactfile’s research reveals that Hastings have the better record from those ties, winning six times, although the Rebels won on each occasion that a replay was required, including in the only post-war meeting when two replays took place.
Hastings United – FA Cup History
While United’s three famous runs to the competition’s Third Round Proper mark them out as amongst Sussex’s most successful teams in the cup, their record in First Qualifying Round matches also bears note, and will bring confidence this weekend.
Since 1945, Hastings & St Leonards, Hastings Town and both incarnations of Hastings United have together only lost 22 First Qualifying Round matches – although eight of those defeats have come since 2002.
Alongside their strong run of results at this stage, the Arrows boast an impressive post-war run against fellow Sussex sides, winning 38 of 54 matches, including 14 of 17 at the First Qualifying Round. Both records exclude the all-Hastings meeting between United and Town in 1984, which the former won 2-1.
Having met only two Sussex teams in the last 15 years however, the current ‘U’s will do well to extend such a record against a tough Worthing team with a proud record of their own.
Worthing FC – FA Cup History
Making the First Round Proper four times in their history, including a defeat to Oxford United in the 1982-83 Second Round and exits at AFC Bournemouth and Rotherham United in the 1990s, the Rebels have plenty of recent pedigree in the FA Cup which they will hope to extend at Pilot Field.
Had it not been for a run of 13 exits at this stage from 1956 to 1970, the club may have had an even better record than they do currently, with just two more First Qualifying Round defeats in the 21st century.
After making it to the Fourth Qualifying Round in 2018-19 with all their ties being played away, Hinshelwood’s side will hope that their ninth consecutive away draw produces equally good fortunes, starting a similar run this season.
The tie will kick off at 3 p.m., with directions to The Pilot Field (Elphinstone Road, TN34 2AX) available here.
Admission is £10 for adults, £6 for concessions, and Under-16’s go free.