Hastings boss: We can beat anyone on home turf

Davide Rodari tries to block the ball during Hastings United's 2-1 win at home to Ashford United last weekend. Picture courtesy Scott White
Davide Rodari tries to block the ball during Hastings United's 2-1 win at home to Ashford United last weekend. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United manager Chris Agutter believes his fast developing football team is capable of beating anybody in its division on home turf.

Agutter’s side will host Hythe Town today (Saturday) seeking a seventh victory in eight Bostik League Division One South encounters at The Pilot Field. Kick-off is 3pm.

He said: “I look at that pitch there and our following and how we play, we’ve got a decent amount of games left at home so we’ve got an opportunity to pick up a lot of points here.

“Any team that comes here, whether they’re top of the league or 16th in the league, we back ourselves to be able to give them a good game and expect to win at The Pilot Field, definitely.”

Ninth-placed Hastings, who won 2-1 at home to Ashford United last weekend, are two positions and four points behind a Hythe side which they had watched in their 6-0 victory over Shoreham last weekend.

Both teams are in decent form, with Hastings having picked up 11 points from their last five matches and Hythe nine from their last four.

Agutter said: “I think they will be very similar to Ashford. I know they’ll be a group of players keen to impress the new manager, but they’ve not been together very long as a squad, which I believe will give us an edge.

“I believe we’ll be better drilled and more familiar with each other as a squad, and we’re confident knowing that at The Pilot Field we can beat anyone.”

Hastings are unbeaten in their last five matches and have lost just three of their last 20 league contests. Two of those defeats came against teams in the top five - Lewes and Greenwich Borough.

“I think even when we lost a couple of games there was still momentum with the way we were playing,” continued Agutter. “Other than Greenwich Borough, I’ve not been disappointed in how we’ve played.

“We’ve always played in the way I would like us to play. We’re regularly dominating the ball and creating chances, albeit not taking them, but that will come.

“Defensively we’re much more organised than we were. We’re very aggressive and on the front foot. I think momentum’s always been there; it’s a case of keep getting the practices right, keep moving forwards really and seeing where it takes us.”

With Sinnkaye Christie impressing on his first start at The Pilot Field last weekend, Agutter believes he now has plenty of options in the centre of defence.

“He (Christie) wanted to come to Hastings and he’s bought into what we’re doing,” said Agutter. “He’s that big, powerful centre-half that we’ve been craving.

“Between Ollie Rowe, Crutts (Sam Cruttwell), Tom Climpson and now Sinnkaye with Tom Vickers, who’s still at Crowborough (with whom he is dual registered), we’ve got real competition for places. Probably a month ago we spoke about being a bit light at centre-back.”

The upturn in results has been mirrored by an increase in attendances. Hastings’ last three home gates have all been over 400 - a figure they’ve topped only twice previously this season, both times back in August.

The crowd of 420 for the Ashford game was the fourth highest at step four level in the country last weekend.

Hastings trained hard this week and should have a clean bill of health for today’s match, leaving Agutter with one or two selection dilemmas.

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