Win over Whitehawk can ignite Hastings United's campaign

Chris Agutter says slow starters Hastings will soon be firing on all cylinders. And he believes an early-season win over Whitehawk can ignite the campaign as it has done before.

Ben Pope scores the second against Whitehawk / Picture: Scott White
Ben Pope scores the second against Whitehawk / Picture: Scott White

United’s first Isthmian south east division victory came at home to the Hawks in front of more than 1,200 Pilot Field fans on Monday.

It followed a 3-2 defeat at Ramsgate on Saturday and boss Agutter hopes that first win, courtesy of second-half goals by Sam Hasler and Ben Pope, will get them going in the league after they took just a point from the first two games.

He described the performance of the referee at Ramsgate one of the worst he had ever seen.

The ball's in the Whitehawk net after Sam Hasler's opener / Picture: Scott White

“For their first goal Sam Adams was almost broken in half by a tackle in the lead-up to it and there was an offside,” he said. “And for their second, which started a mad few minutes when we let in two, Tom Chalmers was victim of a knee-high tackle but because he didn’t go down the ref played on.

“His decisions had a big influence on the outcome and in the second we lived in their 18-yard box and had 18 attempts at goal to their four. But Ramsgate defended well.”

Agutter admitted the loss put pressure on his team to beat Whitehawk in the big bank holiday Sussex derby but said that pressure came from within the dressing room.

“We were very good against Whitehawk – it was the best we’d played for a long time,” he told us.

“Our season always starts slowly and it feels like we always ignite it with an early win over Whitehawk. We hope that proves the case again.

“There were nearly 1,300 fans in the ground and the atmosphere was terrific.” Agutter felt the Whitehawk win allowed his players to show they could tackle the physical side of the game as well as the football aspect.

“We were the better side but we physically dominated them too. It shows we can fight a team as well as playing good football,” he added.

United visit step five side Harefield on Saturday in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup.

Agutter said: “We can’t take them for granted but it’s a chance to get some real momentum.”