Battle is about to commence!

Hastings United vs Herne Bay – Isthmian League (South East Division) – Preview

On Saturday 14th August, Hastings United welcome Herne Bay to the TGS Pilot Field for the opening league game of the 2021-22 season. You will have to cast your minds back to October for United’s last home league game. When Saturday comes around that will be some 290 days, or nine and half months, since our 2-1 win over Whitehawk. The victory was courtesy of goals from Kenny Pogue and Ben Pope and meant the ‘U’s had won six games on the bounce, scoring 16 goals and conceding only three, with Louis Rogers keeping three clean sheets. From a football perspective, the outlook was looking rosy. Alas, just two cup games followed before the season was once again condemned to the mound of sporting detritus Covid has left in its wake.

Looking ahead. With existing players committed to the club for the forthcoming season, United have further bolstered their squad in acquiring attacking midfielder Sam Hasler (formerly Folkestone Invicta), ultra-combative centre-half Ryan Huckle (Gillingham) and superfast winger Freddie Legg (Bexhill United). All of whom have been involved during pre-season.


Pre-season friendlies round-up

Talking of which… United have played seven friendlies in the past month or so, frequently opting to experiment with their team selection including valuable game time for a raft of academy players.

Wins at AFC Uckfield, Walton Casuals and Eastbourne United were followed by a defeat to Alresford Town. After which came another win this time at Eastbourne Town and then a draw at Walthamstow. Pre-season concluded with a home defeat to Carshalton Athletic.

Against Walton Casuals the ‘U’s team and substitutes contained 12 (twelve) players who are, or have been, part of the United academy. This statistic prompted a proud Chris Agutter to Tweet: “This is up there in my happiest moments. This genuinely is just as important to me as the result.”

It is some accomplishment to generate a conveyor belt of hungry young talent who are knocking on the first team door.

In between Walthamstow and Carshalton, United also managed to squeeze in Sammy Adams’ testimonial. A memorable night of celebration against a nifty Tottenham Hotspur development squad.

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And what of Herne Bay’s preparation for the new season? Gleaned from their website and social media the Bay won against Welling Town and Kent Football United then drew with Bearsted before beating Punjab United and Hilltop FC. This was followed by a draw with Cray Wanderers and back-to-back defeats to Hashtag United and Aveley. Four wins, two draws and two defeats are a similar set of results to United’s.


Recent previous meetings

The teams only met once in the 2019-20 curtailed season, a league game at the Pilot Field on a bitterly cold Tuesday evening in January that ended in a goalless draw. Then in September last season the FA Cup pitched the teams together for what was also the first game of the delayed new campaign. United won 1-0. Bay’s goalkeeper earned himself an early bath on forty minutes for unceremoniously clattering Tom Chalmers. Yet despite playing the second-half with only ten men the visitors hung on until there were only seven minutes remaining. Thoughts were turning to penalties when Jack Dixon struck the winning goal, firing home a smart volley after controlling Sam Adams’ pin-point cross.


Bottom line

Pre-season results are not a reliable gauge for how a team will perform on their return to competitive action, but we can be assured both teams will be looking forward to getting the season underway, regardless of this tough introduction. Another close hard-fought game is almost certainly on the cards.

So, set your alarm. Get all your chores done early doors. Gather your family and friends, and head over to the TGS Pilot Field in time for the big kick-off. Battle is about to commence!


Match information

Saturday 14th August, 3pm kick off at the TGS Pilot Field (Elphinstone Road, TN34 2AX).

You can purchase advance tickets here…

or turn up and pay on the gate… £12 for adults, £8 for concessions.

Can’t attend? You can follow live game updates via Twitter: @hastingsufc

Bob Quinn
Twitter: @BobJQuinn