League leaders are visitors for new manager’s first game

Hastings United vs Cray Valley PM – Isthmian League

On Saturday 13th November, United welcome early league leaders Cray Valley PM to the Pilot Field. And we do so with a new manager in place after Gary Elphick was announced as Chris Agutter’s replacement on Wednesday evening. A strong voice on the pitch and in the changing room, Gary is a fans favourite. So, after being down in the dumps following Chris’ departure this welcome news has had a rebound effect on the supporters mood with social media ablaze with well-wishers.

DONE DEAL | Gary Elphick is the new Men’s First Team Manager

United’s six-game form – WWLLWL

United’s recent form is a mixed bag of three wins and three defeats, most recently a convincing win at home to Whitstable Town being followed by a disappointing away defeat to league newcomers Corinthian. While Whitstable turned up and offered limited resistance, Corinthian’s disruptive game plan suckered United into playing at their hosts level. All of which has not been helped by the absence of the aforementioned Elphick in United’s back-four. Crossed fingers he is back on Saturday.

United reman in seventh place in the league on 19 points. This having played ten games – winning six, drawing one and losing three.

Who are Cray Valley PM and what’s their six-game form? WWWWWL

Cray Valley Paper Mills, also known as The Millers, hail from Eltham, in the Royal Borough of Greenwich southeast Greater London. They have certainly hit the ground running this season having racked up nine wins, two draws and a single defeat in their opening 12 league games. This puts them at the top of the table with an impressive 32 goals scored and only 12 conceded.

The Millers fell at the first hurdle in both the FA Cup, lost 1 – 0 away to Uxbridge in the Preliminary Round, and the FA Trophy where they lost on penalties away to AFC Sudbury in the Second Qualifying Round. So while United were travelling to five FA Cup away ties and hosting three FA Trophy ties, Cray have been focussing their attention on their league games, and to good effect. Their only defeat was an eight-goal encounter away to East Grinstead Town with the home side winning 5 – 3. The ‘L’ in their six-game form above was a defeat on Tuesday night in the London Cup.

Not being encumbered by success in the cups certainly looks to have given them an early advantage in the league.

Any recent previous meetings?

The sides have only met twice since The Miller’s promotion to the South East Isthmian League for the 2019-20 season. Indeed their first league game was at home against United and finished scoreless. With the reverse fixture not being played due to the season being curtailed, their next meeting was the first league game of the 2020-21 season this time at the Pilot Field. This game also finished 0 – 0.

Bottom line

Firstly, we are due a goal between these two sides.

While it is only November this feels like a six-pointer already! Cray are ten points ahead of United who have two games in hand. The ideal scenario is a United win on Saturday and both games in hand to narrow the gap to a single point. Which is much easier said than done and no doubt Cray will be thinking the exact opposite, because a win for them will open up a 13-point gap.

We can expect a big crowd and a raucous atmosphere.

Match information

Saturday 13th November, 3pm kick off at the Pilot Field, Elphinstone Road, TN34 2AX.

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

Bob Quinn
Twitter: @BobJQuinn