Hastings United under 19s got a taste of what it is like to play at a Premier League ground as they beat Burgess Hill 6-0 at the American Express Stadium in Brighton.
The two teams were given the opportunity to play their latest league match at the home of Barclays Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion last Wednesday (1st November).
Each season, Premier League clubs are required to test their video and recording equipment, including Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology, so the football club invited the two academy sides to play their match at the Amex. Premier League referee, Lee Probert, took charge of the game, and was able to review two decisions using the VAR.
Hastings United under 19s, who are in partnership with Sussex Coast College Hastings Football academy, continued their fine league form to secure the three points.
A closely contested first half saw United take a slender lead into the break, with Jordan Harley scoring the only goal of the half.
The game came to life in the second half as Hastings United scored 5 goals without reply. Captain Charlie Ball stepped up to convert a spot kick after referee Lee Probert used his video assistant to award United a penalty. Cameron Clarke then scored a brace, before Charlie Curran and Ryan Harffey rounded off the scoring in the final few minutes.
Sussex Coast College Hastings Football Academy student Cameron Clark said: “It was such a good experience to play at a Premier league ground, and to be refereed by a top Premier League ref. The pitch was immaculate and it was a great game to play in.”
Ryan Harffey, who also part of the football academy at Sussex Coast College Hastings said: “The whole day was great and a fantastic experience for us all. Walking down the tunnel and out on to the pitch was great. Ok we didn’t have 30,000 people there to watch us, but just being able to play there was something we won’t forget in a hurry.”
Hastings United Academy is in partnership with Sussex Coast College Hastings. 13 of the 17 man squad were made up of students studying on the Football Academy programme at Sussex Coast College Hastings.
Students studying the football academy qualification at the college will gain a ‘footballing CV’ including a BTEC qualification in sport, first aid techniques, and a Level 1 Football Association coaching qualification. Students can enjoy over 20 hours per week of football training, with 20 matches a season.