Hastings United ‘set up quite nicely’ for last 10 games

Sam Cruttwell on the ball during Hastings United's 2-1 win at home to Faversham Town last weekend. Picture courtesy Scott White
Sam Cruttwell on the ball during Hastings United's 2-1 win at home to Faversham Town last weekend. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United Football Club is ‘set up quite nicely’ for the final 10 games of its league campaign, says manager Chris Agutter.

Hastings are second in the Bostik League South East Division table and on course for a place in the end-of-season promotion play-offs.

Agutter said: “We’ve got 10 games to go and we’ll try to carry on the good form. I think we’re playing well, I think we’re playing really well. We seem to have got through the worst of the injury period, touch wood, and got through it relatively unscathed.

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“I think we’re set up quite nicely for the last 10 games. We’re looking at each game in its own right, as we have done all season, and planning accordingly.

“We try to group games up in fives in terms of points totals, and look at each game and how we’re going to win each game. The last five games the points total isn’t far away from where we expect it to be.

“We’ve lost one game in nearly three months and that’s four unbeaten now; we’ve kept the scoreboard ticking over. That’s credit to the players in terms of the standards we’ve set.”

Hastings are two points ahead of third-placed Ashford United, fourth-placed Horsham and fifth-placed Haywards Heath Town, having played a game more than two of them.

They are nine points better off than Whyteleafe, who are one place outside the play-off spots in sixth, having again played an extra match.

Next up today (Saturday, kick-off 3pm) is a trip to 12th-placed East Grinstead Town. Grinstead are the only visiting team to win at The Pilot Field in the league this term, but Hastings hammered them 9-2 away from home in a Velocity Trophy tie during September.

“The two times we’ve been up there since I’ve been in charge have ended in 7-1 and 9-2 wins so we’ll be looking more at those two games than the home game because the home game was so odd,” continued Agutter.

“I don’t think you can look at it too much and say they’ve got our number so to speak; I just think it was a very strange game.

“Daniel (Ajakaiye) getting sent-off, I think there was a blatant penalty for handball that wasn’t given, they’ve scored from 30 yards with a wicked deflection. It was just one of those days where everything seemed to go wrong.

“They’re a good side, they’ve got some really good individuals. It will be a tough game. I think they’re one of those teams that can either win 3-2 or lose 4-3.

“I’m expecting goals. Their defensive record isn’t the best, but they’ve got really dangerous individuals and on their day they can hurt anybody in the league. But we know if we’re at it we can beat them.”

Temi Eweka, who Agutter felt was playing very well until his red card at Whitstable Town two weeks ago, is back from suspension, but Jack Dixon still has one more game to go on his ban.

Sam Adams, who hobbled off towards the end of last weekend’s 2-1 win at home to Faversham Town, didn’t train on Tuesday night as his foot was still sore, although it had improved a lot and he hoped to train on Thursday night.

Sam Beale also didn’t train on Tuesday, but hoped to on Thursday. Lanre Azeez is nearer to full fitness and Davide Rodari is around two weeks from being available for selection, but Hassan Ibrahiym is still injured.

Bostik League South East Division top half (played-points): 1 Cray Wanderers 26-65 (+38 goal difference), 2 HASTINGS UNITED 26-50 (+23), 3 Ashford United 25-48 (+28), 4 Horsham 25-48 (+18), 5 Haywards Heath Town 26-48 (+15), 6 Whyteleafe 25-41 (+14), 7 Hythe Town 26-39 (+7), 8 VCD Athletic 24-38 (+3), 9 Ramsgate 26-34 (+5), 10 Sevenoaks Town 26-33 (-3).