Hastings United chief: We have two teams ready to make an impression

Hastings United chief Billy Wood believes the club’s men’s and women’s first teams are in fine shape to have successful seasons.

The chairman and CEO at The Pilot Field believes both squads have made the right sort of useful additions while retaining the vast majority of last season’s successful line-ups.

Wood is certainly not getting alarmed over defeats in three home friendlies for Gary Elphick’s men – saying they are testing themselves against good-quality opposition to put themselves in the best shape to tackle their first season back at step three of the non-league scene.

United lost 1-0 to Beaconsfield last weekend and 4-1 to Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday and are now just 15 days away from their Isthmian premier opener at home to Aveley.

Kai Brown in action in Hastings' defeat to Dulwich | Picture: Scott White

Wood has been impressed to see how new recruits Kai Brown, Gil Carvalho and Alex Brefo are settling in – and said they were likely to bring in another new signing, a loan from a Football League club, before the league opener.

"Some will look at the results and think it’s not going so well, but I’d say, on the contrary, this is just what we need to get us ready for the competitive games,” Wood said.

"It’s hard to gauge how you will fare in a higher division untli you start but we’re confident we’ll do well.

"We had two squads out on one night this week – one at Eastbourne Town and one playing Dulwich Hamlet – and that shows we have a certain strength in depth.”

Kellie Larkin has joined Hastings United's women's side

The club’s women’s first team have lost three players and gained three.

Molly Hill, Mia Hyland and Georgia Tibble have moved on but ex-Arsenal and Charlton midfielder Charlotte Gurr and former England U19 internationals Jess Bellehewe and Kellie Larkin have joined.

The women’s aim is simple – they want to win the London and SE League division one south to secure promotion to the premier division – after finishing second last year.

Wood said: “I’d actually say the mixture in the women’s squad is better than last year. Sometimes you need to make changes to evolve.

"We’re expecting increased levels of support for the women this year with the huge interest there’s been in England in the Euros. And we’re hopeful of a successful season.”