Ashford are coming – Time for more cup action

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Hastings United vs Ashford United – FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round – Preview

On Saturday 9th October Hastings United will welcome our good friends from Kent, Ashford United. The first of two games this month beginning with the FA Trophy second qualifying round tie on Saturday and then we welcome them back toward the end of October for the rearranged league game.

United’s six-game form – WWWWWW

At the weekend, the ‘U’s winning streak extended to seven games with our 1 – 0 win in Saturday’s FA Cup tie at National League South’s Chippenham Town. Kenny Pogue with the only goal of the game, and what a goal it was – check out the video clip here. The reward is an away tie for the fifth consecutive round, this time against the National League’s Maidenhead United. More to follow on these opponents in next week’s preview.

Chippenham’s own preview before our game included this line… “Whereas usually this round can throw up a tie with a bit more fear to it, Chippenham will be happy with the home draw against another lower league opponent.”

It just goes to show you have to be careful what you wish for. Football has an age-long habit of turning league status, form and what should happen, on its head. On Saturday, having lost both Lloyd Dawes and Dave Martin in the pre-match warm-up, United had to shuffle their pack at the last minute bringing in Sam Adams and Pogue from the bench. Maybe Chris’ game plan lay in tatters on the dressing room floor? But more than likely the game plan stayed exactly as he intended. Yes, we lost two quality players before the game had started but we replaced them with two more quality players. A brilliant winning performance followed, and we won the battle of the supporters drum too!

Did Chippenham underestimate United? Did United catch them on an off day? The answer is the same as ‘what’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?’ I don’t know and I don’t care. All that matters is the better team won on the day.

Anyway, enough about last Saturday, now we move on to this Saturday. But also, a quick reminder that in between our FA Trophy and FA Cup ties, United are squeezing in a league game on Tuesday 12th October at home ‘under the lights’ to Whitstable Town. Update: This game has been postponed due to Whitstable’s involvement in the Kent Senior Cup semi-final.

Our position in the fledgling league table means little at the moment, by which I mean United are tenth but have only played five games. The number of games played by other teams ranges from six, seven, eight to even nine games. We have some catching up to do.

Who are Ashford United and what’s their six-game form? WWWLDD

The Nuts & Bolts, as they are known, reformed in 2011 after the predecessor club Ashford Town went into administration. Of course they are in the same league as United and the ‘U’s now have one of their former players in their midst, one Sam Hasler.

They sit fifth in the league having played seven games, winning four, drawing two and losing one. Last Saturday saw them draw 0 – 0 at home to Three Bridges. They’ve scored 12 and conceded six in amassing their 14 points.

In the FA Cup they fell at the preliminary round after drawing 1 – 1 and then losing on penalties to Chatham Town after drawing 1 – 1 in the replay. In the FA Trophy first qualifying round they won through on penalties against Chalfont St Peter following another 1 – 1 draw.

Which brings them to The Pilot Field.

FA Trophy

The FA Trophy is a competition open to Step 1 to 4 clubs and this is the second of potentially three qualifying rounds, after which comes the first-round proper. The reward for reaching the final is a visit to the national stadium for ‘Non-League Finals Day’ next May. With the exception of the final, if a match is drawn after 90 minutes, the winner shall be determined by penalties.

Any recent previous meetings?

The teams met twice in the curtailed 2019-20 season and Ashford came out top on both occasions. A 1 – 0 win at home in December was followed up by 3 – 0 win at The Pilot Field in the February when the aforementioned Hasler scoring a brace for his former club.

Bottom line

Having played away from home seven times out of ten games United will be looking forward to a couple of home games. While the prize money for the FA Trophy doesn’t quite match the FA Cup it is still not to be sniffed at, the winners receiving £2,250 while the losers receive £575.

Match information

Saturday 9th October, 3pm kick off at the Pilot Field, Elphinstone Road, TN34 2AX.

Tickets available here.

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

Bob Quinn
Twitter: @BobJQuinn