Chris Agutter believes his Hastings United Football Club team isn’t getting the praise it deserves.
Hastings ended the Easter weekend in style with a 7-1 victory away to East Grinstead Town to make it 10 Bostik League Division One South points from a possible 12.
Their manager, Agutter, said: “I don’t think we maybe get the love that we perhaps deserve. We could potentially finish four points off the tally of that team last year (Hastings totalled 82 points in 2016/17 and they have 63 with five games to go this term).
“If that had been said when we were 20th when I took over, people would’ve gone ‘no chance’. I think it just shows how far the players have come.
“It bodes really well. I would love bigger attendances and I would love a bit more credit - not from my point of view, just from the players’ point of view. The likes of Davide Rodari and Adam Lovatt, these players have done incredibly well.”
Rodari netted four times against Grinstead to overtake the departed Calum Davies as Hastings’ leading scorer this season with 15 first team goals.
“After Saturday (when Hastings drew 1-1 at home to Phoenix Sports) all I heard was negatives about Davide,” continued Agutter. “(Comments such as) He’s not a centre-forward, he’s not that.
“What people need to remember is he’s 18-years-old, he’s played nine games up-front all season and scored six goals - two in every three games as an 18-year-old in his first year in senior football.
“I think it was a nice reply from him to be honest. He took his goals really well. For any striker to score four goals in one game, no matter the opponent, is a real statement of intent. He’s very aware of the criticism and takes it all on board, and he wanted to prove a point.”
Agutter called for his team to be more ruthless after the draw against Phoenix and his message was certainly heeded against Grinstead (for a report on that game click here).
“Everyone was giving us a pat on the back because of the scoreline,” Agutter went on. “I like to take the emotion of the scoreline out of it and look at the game objectively.
“We got into the same sort of positions with the same sort of regularity; the only difference was the cutting edge on Monday.
“It was a very good performance and probably our most ruthless performance in front of goal. That 7-1 we could’ve done that four or five times, but I’m not getting carried away with it.
“I think we’re a very good side and we’re still two or three players away from being a title-challenging side. The draw on Saturday and the 7-1 have done nothing to change my views.
“We’re looking to develop players and bring in one or two more established players, and I think it all looks very positive for the months ahead.
“The performances have been pretty consistent over the last few months. I think Greenwich Borough (who beat Hastings 5-2 on January 6) is the only game where we’ve dropped below expectations in terms of what’s required of a Hastings United team.”
All bar one of Hastings’ remaining opponents are in the bottom half of the table. Today (Saturday) they will visit a Chipstead side which has lost its last seven games.
“The aim is to continue the ruthless edge and put Chipstead to the sword, as we did East Grinstead,” added Agutter. “We’re building for next season really and if we can go into next year with another unbeaten run and with momentum, I think that bodes well.”
Sam Adams is set to return, but Ollie Rowe is struggling with a recurrence of a previous knock.
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