From Hastings to Stevenage and Brighton – but Agutter is excited by Pilot Field return

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Chris Agutter says it feels like the right time – and an exciting one – to make his Hastings United return.

In a move which has been welcomed by supporters, Agutter has been appointed to fill the vacancy created when Paul Barnes was axed just ten league games into the new season after a run of defeats.

Agutter had a successful spell as Hastings boss that would have seen them promoted to the Isthmian premier division had Covid and its subsequent lockdowns not halted the 2019-20 and 20-21 seasons.

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He left the Pilot Field in November 2021 and has spent two years doing academy coaching with Stevenage and Brighton – with a breif spell as part of a caretaker team in charge of Stevenage’s first team. But he said he was delighted to return to a first team role with a club he knows well and which knows him well.

Chris Agutter - pictured at Hastings United's game at Margate on Tuesday night - is excited to be back at the Pilot Field | Picture: Scott WhiteChris Agutter - pictured at Hastings United's game at Margate on Tuesday night - is excited to be back at the Pilot Field | Picture: Scott White
Chris Agutter - pictured at Hastings United's game at Margate on Tuesday night - is excited to be back at the Pilot Field | Picture: Scott White

Agutter’s new reign had a winning start on Tuesday night when Davide Rodari struck a late goal to earn a 2-1 win at Margate that left United 11th in the Isthmian premier.

The new boss said he was enjoying getting stuck into the job and felt he already had a good squad to work with.

"I nearly took a different first team job in the summer but I’d only been at Brighton seven months and it felt a little too soon,” Agutter told us. “A few months on I had the opportunity to take the role at Hastings and I thought ‘Where better to get back into first team football?’ – it’s a club I know well and it was too good to turn down.

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"I’ll be running the first team and supporting the academy. It’s an exciting time to be coming back.

"I know the new owners well from my previous time here and like the club’s plans. There are a lot of people at the club wanting to move in the same direction.”

Assistant boss Andrew Brown is back alongside Agutter, and so is first team coach Ben Cornelius, with Bobbi Deegan doing strength and conditioning work.

Agutter has spoken to everyone in the squad – and that includes a number of former HUFC academy lads he knows from his previous spell – and said it was a great group.

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One or two new faces may be added as Agutter finds his feet, but the immediate aim is to get something from tomorrow’s home game with Carshalton and Tuesday’s home Velocity Trophy tie with Chichester.

He has also been pleased to renew acquaintances with Hasting’s fans, who gave him a great reception at Margate. “They’re brilliant,” he said. “When we went 1-0 down to Margate, they made more noise than the home fans. They’re loyal and are a great set of fans and it will be great to be sending a team out for them again.”