Hastings United boss: We controlled the game in play-off defeat

Hastings United manager Chris Agutter felt the football club controlled the game in its heartbreaking play-off defeat at home to Ashford United.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 10:47 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 11:23 am
Lanre Azeez competes for the ball with Ashford United full-back Laurent Mendy. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings were edged out 3-2 after extra-time in the Bostik League South East Division play-off semi-final on Monday night, the winning goal coming from a 119th minute penalty.

Agutter said: “I thought we dominated the game to be honest. They’re very direct and basic, and back to front, but they’re very good at it and there’s nothing wrong with that.

See also: * Hastings United suffer agonising extra-time play-off loss* Hastings United secure third place with final day win* Dropped goalkeeper set to return for play-off showdown* Hastings United pair perform ‘really well’ at Leicester City“We play a slightly different way and I thought we were in control of the game. I judge a game by how many times my heart’s racing and how many times I get a bit panicky, but tonight I wasn’t panicky at all, I was quite relaxed because I thought we were in control.

“You can’t really legislate for individual errors, but it is what it is, and the players will be stronger for it and we’ll move forward.”

Agutter made three changes to his starting line-up from the 2-2 draw at home to Ashford United in the league on Easter Monday and felt the alterations worked.

“I thought we were excellent to be honest,” he continued. “When we played the previous Monday and drew 2-2, I thought we were nowhere near as good as what we were today.

“I thought we played really well and deservedly went in front on both occasions. Unfortunately, we just didn’t quite hold the lead long enough to get a foothold in the game, but you can’t really account for individual mistakes.

Lanre Azeez competes for the ball with Ashford United full-back Laurent Mendy. Picture courtesy Scott White

“I think they’ve had three shots on goal and scored all three, one of them’s a penalty. Whereas last week, we battened down the hatches, we were stretched and every time they attacked it looked like they might score. I think the changes more than worked.”

Goals from Davide Rodari and Jack Dixon, both assisted by Lanre Azeez, twice put Hastings ahead during the second half of normal time.

“Lanre was excellent tonight,” added Agutter. “He’s been superb since he’s got his fitness. He had a bit of a stop-start season period when he first came, but the last month we’ve really seen what he’s all about and he’s been a big, big factor in us being top of the form guide for the last couple of months.

“It was a great finish from Davide as well. He’s scored six in eight, which is incredible really. There are loads of positives to take out of it, but it’s just very difficult at the moment to digest it.”