Hastings United remain in driving seat despite falling from Isthmian South East summit

Hastings United manager Chris Agutter. Photo by Scott WhiteHastings United manager Chris Agutter. Photo by Scott White
Hastings United manager Chris Agutter. Photo by Scott White | other
Chris Agutter claimed Hastings’ position in the hunt for the BetVictor Isthmian South East title has been ‘strengthened’ despite the postponement of last weekend’s scheduled fixture away to Chichester City.

Called off last Friday, with Storm Dennis on its way, Hastings had an unplanned weekend off while their rivals dropped points around them.

Ashford United knocked the U’s off top spot for the first time since December 3, but only by virtue of a marginally better goal difference, as they could only manage a point, coming from behind against Haywards Heath Town.

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Meanwhile, third-placed Whitehawk were held to a draw by second-bottom Ramsgate, despite having a two-goal advantage at half-time.

Hastings now have a game in hand over both, heading into the final third of the season.

Agutter said: “Yeah I thought it was a really good weekend for us with Whitehawk and Ashford both dropping points.

“We were in the driving seat before the weekend and we’re still in the driving seat with our position strengthened so it was a really good weekend for us.

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“It indicates as well that perhaps it’s easy to get up for games like top-of-the-table clashes and derby games in front of big crowds but the challenge is, can you maintain the standards when perhaps you’re playing the lesser teams?

“Ashford have beaten us twice this season in two games which were billed as top-of-the-table clashes but they’ve lost seven games of their own and dropped points where maybe the occasions hasn’t been quite as big.

“So that tells its own story because, from my perspective, yes we’ve lost twice this season but what we have had to do is be very consistent and, irrelevant of the opposition and the occasion, we’ve delivered more often than not so that’s a positive.”

Speaking about last weekend’s postponement, Agutter added: “It was always going to get called off, whether it was Friday or a Saturday. The only benefit is, if it’s called off on the day you have to make alternative plans but being called off on the Friday you can organise way in advance which was good.”

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Agutter also believes the break has helped his preparations in time for this Saturday’s upcoming home against Sittingbourne.

He continued: “It’s been good. For a few players who perhaps needed a rest, they’ve had that, and it’s given us an opportunity to work hard and prepare double diligently for Sittingbourne.”