Chris Agutter hailed Sam Adams the best player to have played for Hastings United in his lifetime as the midfielder prepares to make his 500th club appearance.
United’s captain will reach that appearance landmark when Hastings entertain Whitstable Town in the Bostik League South East Division today (Saturday). Kick-off at The Pilot Field is 3pm.
Agutter, Hastings’ manager, said: “In my lifetime I don’t think there’s ever been a better player that’s played for Hastings. He’s the most under-rated player I’ve ever worked with.
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“When I was (assistant manager) at Eastbourne Borough, he would’ve got in that side in Conference South - he’s that good.”
Accomplished with the ball and hard working without it, Adams has been a consistently high quality performer and a real fans’ favourite during his three spells at The Pilot Field.
He scored his 130th Hastings goal - and eighth of the season - during Tuesday night’s 5-0 win at home to Herne Bay, and that prolific record has been achieved despite playing in just about every position on the field, including in goal.
Adams’ fine form has helped Hastings to second place in the table - seven points behind leaders Cray Wanderers with a game in hand.
Hastings lost 2-1 away to still unbeaten Cray on Sunday, but Agutter believed there was nothing between the sides and says that no trophies are handed out in November.
Following the recent arrival of Lanre Azeez and Youssouf Bamba, Hastings have this week released defender Sinnkaye Christie and wide player Dayshonne Golding is going on a year’s loan to Bostik Premier Division team Lewes.
Agutter said: “As I said when Youssouf and Lanre came in, the squad will be trimmed. We’ve got a big squad and we’ve got more wingers in the squad than the rest of the league have got together so it’s no stress really.
“I take real pride in the books being balanced. We’re trying to manage the budget properly so it’s sustainable.”
Charlie Curran, who Agutter says has done brilliantly with the under-23s, will join the first team squad, while another young prospect, Panashe Makwiramiti, made his first team debut against Herne Bay.
Last season’s leading scorer Davide Rodari is expected to return to training in January having made what Agutter called ‘unbelievable progress’ in his recovery from a serious knee injury.
Adam Lovatt hopes to be fit for tomorrow’s game after missing the last two matches with an injury picked up in training last Thursday, although Agutter described Hassan Ibrahim as ‘brilliant’ in the last two games having dropped into Lovatt’s holding midfield role.
Agutter also praised Sam Cruttwell after the Herne Bay match.
He said: “We all know Sam’s a midfield player, but when we need someone to fill in at centre-half, he’s more than capable of doing it.”