Agutter: Hastings United players must use Sussex cup final defeat as fuel

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Chris Agutter paid Horsham credit for their victory over Hastings in the Sussex Transport Senior Cup final – and said his United players must use the defeat as fuel to help them on their football journey.

United fell at the last hurdle when they were defeated 3-0 by Horsham – that in Hastings’ first senior cup final in 24 years, having lost to Brighton and Hove Albion on penalties in 2000.

Agutter said: “I've got to give Horsham a lot of credit. If I’m being honest, at times it was men against boys. I think their experience and quality showed.

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“We started the game well actually. The first 10-15 minutes we felt if we could get a foothold in the game and certainly not give them the initiative like we have in the two previous games we've played them, we would have a good platform to build from.

Adam Lovatt in action in the Sussex Senior Cup final | Picture: Scott WhiteAdam Lovatt in action in the Sussex Senior Cup final | Picture: Scott White
Adam Lovatt in action in the Sussex Senior Cup final | Picture: Scott White

“The first 10 minutes were decent. We had the majority of the ball, posed a couple of decent questions for them, got in some really good attacking positions but they then had one chance to score.”

Agutter pinpointed the main difference between his side and Horsham: “Our lack of quality in the final third versus their quality in the final third was a big factor in the outcome of the game.”

He also reflected on the progress he, his staff and the team had made since his return to the manager’s job last October.

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He said: “When we took over we were near the bottom of the league, we had 12 senior players and the brief was to keep us up. Over the past six months we've managed to get within touching distance of the play-offs and the cup final.

“It’s the first cup final the clubs been at for the last 20 plus years, im just really proud of the players, they need to take this experience and use it as fuel.

“We've got to make sure its not another 20 years before the clubs at a cup final again.”

Hastings United boast a very young squad with many of their players coming from their academy system. When asked if the players can learn from this defeat he said: “They need to!

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" The thing is Horsham set up in a similar way to how they did in the first game (between the side this season). Off the back of that, we then do a lot of work on the training pitch.

“When teams set up in a similar way we are able to apply some of the learning from the original game. We've worked on it and applied it to similar games and we've had success against teams that do that, but one of the things with a young group that is consistent is inconsistency.

“What we saw were similar issues that we had in the first game – as I said we've worked on it and thought we amended it they came back to haunt us a little bit.”

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