Hastings United boss: Best squad since I took charge

Chris Agutter says the present Hastings United Football Club squad is the strongest it’s been during his 18-month stint as manager.

Thursday, 28th March 2019, 5:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 5:16 pm
Hastings United loan signing Bradley Stevenson on the ball during last weekend's 3-1 win away to Three Bridges. Picture courtesy Scott White

A combination of new signings and players returning from injury has left Agutter with options aplenty for the Bostik League South East Division run-in.

He said: “It’s the strongest the squad’s been since I’ve been manager, 100 percent. On Saturday we had an incredible bench and it’s a really good position to be in.

See also: * Hastings United up to second after third straight win* Gillingham pair join Hastings United* Hastings United talent almost joined Sunderland* Hastings United ace returns to former club“If players don’t perform, there’s an alternative that’s just as good as them, if not better, waiting in the wings.

“We’ve not got lots of the same either, we’ve got a really nice blend. I think the squad’s far better than the level (it’s playing at); we just need to make sure we prove that.”

Bradley Stevenson and Jack Tucker have arrived on loan from Gillingham until the end of the campaign, while Hassan Ibrahiym made a goalscoring return from injury for the development squad on Monday night.

There have also been a couple of departures over the past week, with Youssouf Bamba returning to Walton Casuals and Temi Eweka to VCD Athletic.

With Hastings closing in on a play-off spot, the points-per-game situation will come increasingly into focus. Of the play-off winners in the seven step four leagues across the country, only the five teams with the best points-per-game average will be promoted.

“It’s more the points per game ratio now which becomes the priority,” continued Agutter. “It’s nice to get two home games in the play-offs by finishing second, but the priority is firstly getting in the play-offs and once we get the play-offs (place) secured, making sure we keep our points per game ratio as high as possible.”

Hastings continued their good run of form with a 3-1 win away to 10-man Three Bridges last weekend.

“It was a very disciplined, professional performance,” added Agutter. “They went a goal ahead out of nowhere really and that prompted us to go through the gears a little bit. We got the game won and saw it out relatively comfortably.

“It was one of those games I would’ve been reluctant to pay to watch, but we got the job done. Their game plan was evidently to rough us up - Davide (Rodari) got kicked from pillar to post for 90 minutes, so did Lanre (Azeez) and Bradley Stevenson - but the players were professional and disciplined.

“Other than a 15-minute spell before half time I don’t think we got out of second gear.”

Bostik League South East Division top half (played-points): 1 Cray Wanderers 30-72 (+40 goal difference), 2 HASTINGS UNITED 31-59 (+25), 3 Horsham 31-59 (+22), 3 Ashford United 30-58 (+32), 5 Haywards Heath Town 30-56 (+19), 6 Hythe Town 31-47 (+10), 7 VCD Athletic 30-47 (+1), 8 Whyteleafe 30-42 (+8), 9 Phoenix Sports 30-40 (-3), 10 Ramsgate 31-38 (+2).