Hastings United Football Club will kick-off 2019 with a tough-looking trip to Ashford United today (New Year’s Day). Kick-off is 3pm.
Ashford are sixth in the Bostik League South East Division - four points behind second-placed Hastings - but are top of the form guide for the last six games with five wins and a draw.
Hastings manager Chris Agutter said: “I look forward to the Ashford game. They’re the games you’ve got to go and perform well in. We’re in a really good place at the minute, but so are they.
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“I would rather be playing the Ashford now on a good run than the side that started the season poorly because I love big games to test ourselves.”
Leading scorer Daniel Ajakaiye has now completed his three-match suspension and will compete with Jordy Mongoy for the central striker role, while captain Sam Adams - who has sent Agutter videos of his gym sessions while on holiday in Egypt - is expected to return.
“Selection dilemmas there because Daniel’s scored 24 goals and that can’t be ignored - and he’s trained very well,” said Agutter, speaking after the 1-0 win at home to Sevenoaks Town on Boxing Day.
“I thought Jordy was excellent today (against Sevenoaks), did everything but score. He gives us a different type of forward, which is nice because obviously teams have become a little bit wise to us, knowing we like to have space to break into.”
Hastings have hit back from three successive league defeats with back-to-back wins against VCD Athletic and Sevenoaks to end 2018 averaging exactly two points per game this season.
“We just challenged the players to go on another run really, but not get ahead of ourselves,” continued Agutter.
“After our blip (of three successive league defeats), we wiped the slate clean and said our season started against VCD. I just felt a few of the players were living off what we did in the first quarter of the season.”