Hastings United manager Chris Agutter said he was proud of his players after the football club made a sorely-needed return to winning ways.
Hastings ended a run of three consecutive Bostik League South East Division defeats and six matches without a win in all competitions with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at home to VCD Athletic on Saturday.
Speaking after the game, Agutter said: “I’m really proud of the players because it’s been a difficult couple of weeks. We’ve asked them to respond and take a bit of responsibility, and they’ve done that in the perfect way really.
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“Once you’ve lost a couple of games obviously you’ve got to stop the rot at some point. When we spoke on Tuesday (after the 4-0 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion under-23s) I had the right hump because I felt the players weren’t stepping up, but to be fair today I thought the players were magnificent.
“We’ve got more teenagers on the pitch than what you would call seasoned players and I’m just proud of them because it takes real character and real bottle.
“I just felt the last couple of weeks we’ve gone out with a bit of a whimper, but it’s no co-incidence today we’ve got more academy players on the pitch than we had previously, the weather’s not the best and the boys that have been around the club for a few years have rolled their sleeves up and dug in, and really dragged us through. I’m really proud of them.”
Jordy Mongoy made his debut up-front having signed from National League South high-flyers Billericay Town.
Agutter said: “Jordy came in, did great back to goal, held the ball up well and was a bit more of a target for us. I was really pleased.”
Agutter admitted things had been ‘pretty miserable’ during the search for an elusive victory.
“I’m a nightmare when we lose,” he continued. “My poor wife at home I’ve not spoken to her for nearly three weeks. The last couple of weeks have been pretty miserable.
“I’m just happy for the players because I think a lot of people forget how young we are. This is the first time a lot of the players have been in this situation and first time I’ve ever been in this situation in terms of managing a team challenging to get promoted.
“It’s all new to us, we’re learning with every game and to be fair the players stepped up today. They deserve to enjoy Christmas, but not too much because obviously we’ve got Sevenoaks here on Boxing Day.”
An 11-day gap in fixtures may well allow some of the injury victims to return for the festive visit of Sevenoaks Town, although Daniel Ajakaiye will serve the final game of his suspension.
“To be honest we didn’t miss them today so it’s up to the injured players to get themselves back in the side,” added Agutter. “I don’t want to harp on about the amount of injuries we’ve got, but we could’ve fielded eight players today in a starting XI that are unavailable.
“I don’t really want to talk about them because the players that were out on the pitch delivered it, and the players that are injured and not available will be equally pleased because it’s a good group. The spirit is immense, it’s brilliant.
“People like Jack Dixon lead the dressing room really well and keep what’s a tight-knit group together.”
The development squad will host Cray Wanderers in Bostik League Development South tomorrow (Friday), kick-off 7.45pm.