Hastings United manager Chris Agutter is expecting ‘a Manchester City versus Liverpool type game’ as the football club returns to home soil today (Saturday).
Tenth-placed Hastings will entertain a Walton Casuals side which occupies the final Bostik League Division One South play-off spot of sixth. Kick-off at The Pilot Field is 3pm.
“I think it will be a really good game for the neutral,” said Agutter. “Two teams who play a certain way and two managers who are very stubborn in their beliefs. I love good football and I’m passionate about the game.
“I think it will be like a Man City v Liverpool type game. They’re very mobile, very athletic, and I think it will be a really decent test and a good indicator of where we’re at. I’m looking forward to it.”
Agutter felt that Hastings ought to have picked up three points rather than none from their 1-0 defeat at eighth-placed Whyteleafe last weekend, despite not playing particularly well.
“We were probably at six out of 10 in terms of us being at our best and I still think we should’ve won the game,” he said. “I keep saying it, but if we had a bit more cutting edge, we would’ve won our last eight games. It makes it very clear and evident what we need to improve on next season.
“We dominated a side that have been on a decent run and it’s a reflection of how far we’ve come that we’re that dominant without being at our best against a side chasing a play-off spot now.”
Versatile midfielder Sam Cruttwell, who has already made more than 200 appearances for the club at the age of 21, has joined Dayshonne Golding and Charlie Horlock in remaining on board for the 2018/19 campaign.
Agutter said: “Sam’s been brilliant. He loves the way we play and he’s a very good footballer - there’s nothing he can’t do. He’s bought into the work ethic and bare minimum that’s required at the club and his performances have reflected that buy-in.”
While Cruttwell is staying, leading scorer Calum Davies has returned to former club Leatherhead. The 19-year-old netted 13 times for Hastings after joining in November.
“Calum wouldn’t have been with us next season anyway,” continued Agutter. “He wasn’t going to start against Whyteleafe (last weekend) and I wouldn’t have looked to retain him.
“As horrible as it sounds, I don’t think he would’ve been a centre-forward that’s part of a title-winning or title-challenging side.”
Agutter may well look at Davide Rodari in the central striker’s role - his favoured position - during the remainder of this season and says he will look to bring in a different type of forward.
“We need a big, experienced centre-back and a different type of centre-forward,” Agutter went on. “Teams have become wise to how we play so what we need is a very experienced centre-half who can help organise the team while we’ve got the ball defensively.
“In Davide we’ve got a certain type of centre-forward. He’s arguably been one of our best players in the last six weeks and I think he will pull up trees moving forward, next year in particular.
“We need a big, strong, 6ft 2in plus centre-forward - like a traditional target man - where we can put crosses into the box and maybe try a plan B.”
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