Hastings United have begun their 2020/21 campaign with two home matches at Pilot Field: a 1-0 FA Cup win over Herne Bay on 12th September followed by a 0-0 draw with Cray Valley Paper Mills in the opening Isthmian League fixture last Saturday.

Jack Dixon, United’s combative midfielder, took centre stage in both games, scoring the only goal late on against Herne Bay, then finding himself red-carded for serious foul play after only 27 minutes of the league game.

Tickets for both matches were sold out, with the maximum number of 400 spectators now permitted at the ground under Covid-19 regulations on each occasion. They have watched United continue to demonstrate the same strengths and potential weakness as in pre-season games over August and early September: a well-marshalled defence, but a lack of penetration up front that is a little concerning.

Jack Dixon in action for the ‘U’s (in white and claret)
PICTURE: Scott White

Herne Bay were lying fifth in the South-East Division of the Isthmian League in March when the season was brought to a premature end, and presented a tough obstacle to cup progress.  Even after their goalkeeper was sent off in the second half – harshly in the view of many – Hastings struggled to break them down, until Dixon converted a Sam Adams cross.

The ‘U’s reward for the victory was another home tie this Tuesday (22nd) against Chesham United. The visitors play in the Southern League Premier Division, one tier up from their hosts. But they will be facing a long midweek journey, while Hastings should be backed by another capacity crowd primed to expect a strong home performance.

Against Cray Valley PM, Hastings will have been pleased enough to repeat the same 0-0 score as in last season’s opener against the same opponents, once Dixon received his marching orders. Playing more than an hour with only ten men at this stage of the season will have been tough, but the ‘U’s had the better of the few chances that arose at either end, debutant Raheem Sterling-Parker missing in front of goal and Gary Elphick hitting the cross-bar with a header.

On Saturday they will play their first away fixture, at Faversham. 

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