Chris Agutter is expecting a tough test when Hastings United Football Club begins its league campaign today (Saturday).
Hastings will kick-off their 2018/19 Bostik League Division One South programme with a home game against Thamesmead Town. Kick-off at The Pilot Field is 3pm.
Agutter, Hastings’ manager, said: “They’re a good side and they’ve added as well. They’re one of those that I think have improved in terms of personnel compared to last year. They had a really good start last season as well so they’ve obviously got something right pre-season wise.
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“It will be a tough test, but put it this way I wouldn’t want to be a team that comes here and plays against us because I back us. Any team that comes here and wants to have a game of football, by all means go for it.
“I look forward to seeing what Thamesmead do. If they come here and want to have a go, then brilliant - we’ll take that all day long. Whether or not they look to alter maybe from what they’ve done in their pre-season games, which we’ve watched, remains to be seen.
“But it will be a tough game. They’ve got a very experienced manager, they’ve added quality, they’ve strengthened, so it will be a tough test. But it’s one of those games we’re expecting to win.”
Speaking at the club’s media day last weekend, Agutter already seemed clear on the make-up of his starting XI tomorrow.
“We plan for every game in its own right so the starting XI which we regard as best suited to winning the game against Thamesmead might be completely different to the starting XI that’s needed to beat Ramsgate (the following weekend),” he continued.
“We’ve got strength in depth, but we’ve also got different types of players as well. People talk about we’ve got a few wide men, but they’re all different in their own right so it gives us a nice bit of flexibility in terms of our team selection.
“We’ve got plenty of different types of players so it’s good competition for places, but in terms of the team that I think’s best equipped to beat Thamesmead, myself and the staff are pretty clear on that.”
Agutter is setting out on his first full season as manager having taken the reins towards the end of September last year.
“It’s come round very quick and it’s going to be exciting to see how we look in a competitive game,” he added.
“As much as you’re looking for the friendlies to be as competitive as possible, there’s nothing quite like having the edge of a proper game of football with the pressure so I’m looking forward to it.”
Hastings should be at full strength today apart from Jack Dixon, who has a one-match ban carried over from last season.
“Jack’s done great in pre-season, but it’s an opportunity for someone to step in and try to keep him out of the side,” said Agutter.
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