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Hastings United vs East Grinstead Town – Preview
There is no let up for Hastings United, the games keep on coming. On Tuesday 26th November they play East Grinstead Town for their fourth group stage game in this year’s Alan Turvey Isthmian League Cup (also known as the Velocity Sports Trophy).
After three wins, United top the group table above Burgess Hill Town courtesy of a superior goal difference. Due to other commitments and weather postponements, both United and Burgess Hill have only played three of their five group games.
For East Grinstead, as they’ve only won once, this is a dead-rubber. For United though, victory here will be another stride toward reaching the knockout phase, as only the group winners progress.
United are unbeaten in the Isthmian South East league, amassing 25 from a possible 33 points. They lie second in the table, three points behind Cray Valley but with two games in hand.
At the weekend United suffered their second successive cup defeat. On Saturday a 1 – 0 reverse away to Weymouth in the FA Trophy followed a 2 – 3 home loss to Brighton in the Sussex Senior Cup. Two narrow defeats against opposition currently playing at a higher level.
So, whilst the league remains the priority, this is the final cup competition United are involved in and they will want to return to winning ways. In the group stage, United have already beaten Chichester City (away), Three Bridges (home) and Haywards Heath (home).
East Grinstead have struggled so far this season and lie bottom of the league. They are yet to win in thirteen games having drawn five times and lost eight. Their only victory being a 5 – 0 thrashing of Chichester City in this competition. Though City had been winning away a couple of days before in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round.
At the start of November, East Grinstead brought in a number of new recruits and have seen an upturn in performances. Although they lost narrowly (0 – 1) to Faversham they have since drawn their last two games. A scoreless draw away to Whiteleafe and on Saturday they were only denied a first league victory by a last minute equaliser against, the previously mentioned, Burgess Hill.
United and East Grinstead have already met in the league this season, at the end of August, playing out a scoreless draw.
Competition format and rules
There are ten regional groups comprised of the First Division teams. United are in group four (along with Burgess Hill Town, Chichester City, East Grinstead Town, Haywards Heath Town and Three Bridges). Teams play each other once, either home or away.
It’s three points for a win but no extra time if the match is drawn, instead each team is awarded one point and the game moves directly to a penalty shootout with the spot-kick winners picking up a bonus point. Also, each team can name and use up to five substitutes.
On conclusion of the group stages, the ten group winners will join the Premier Division teams in the last 32 as the competition reverts to a traditional knockout format.
Group 4 table
Hastings United – 9 points (3 games)
Burgess Hill Town – 9 (3)
Haywards Heath Town – 7 (5)
Three Bridges – 5 (5)
East Grinstead Town – 3 (4)
Chichester City – 3 (4)
Burgess Hill play Chichester at home on the 10th December therefore United’s final group fixture is a potential winner takes all against Burgess Hill on 17th December.
The game kicks off at 7:45pm at The Pilot Field.
Admission is £5 for adults, £5 for concessions with Under-16’s Free!