Hastings boss pleased with revamped squad

Jack Dixon competes for an aerial ball during Hastings United's 1-1 draw at home to Cray Wanderers on Tuesday night. Picture courtesy Scott White

Chris Agutter is pleased with the way his Hastings United Football Club squad is coming together after bringing in three players over the past week.

Hastings have signed forward Calum Davies, and wide players Dayshonne Golding and Adebola ‘Ollie’ Sotoyinbo, with Davies and Golding scoring on their respective debuts.

Ansu Janneh gets in front of a Cray Wanderers opponent. Picture courtesy Scott White

What’s more, Hastings have signed goalkeeper Charlie Horlock from Eastbourne Borough for an undisclosed fee. Horlock, who had been on loan at Hastings, has signed a contract until the end of the season, with an option for a second season.

Hastings manager Agutter said: “Dayshonne, Ollie and Calum are all young, hungry players, mobile and athletic, and all on their way up. Every manager I speak to says ‘you’re doing the right thing’.”

Golding, who played against Hastings for Phoenix Sports in September, netted a late equaliser in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Shoreham and Agutter described him as ‘the best player on the pitch by a mile’.

Hastings completed the signing of Davies from Leatherhead at 2.15pm on Tuesday and the 20-year-old opened the scoring with a terrific finish in the 1-1 draw at home to Cray Wanderers that evening.

Cray goalkeeper Nick Blue is beaten as Hastings United take the lead. Picture courtesy Scott White

“He gives us that much-needed pace along the forward line,” continued Agutter. “He’s someone we’ve been after and he will be a massive plus for us. He’s played nearly 100 games for Leatherhead’s front side.”

Agutter is still looking to strengthen, though. He feels the team needs a holding midfielder who ‘sits and destroys’ and is talking to someone playing in National League South.

He is also looking at the right-back position, but has been ‘really impressed’ with how Ollie Rowe has performed in that role in recent games.

Agutter has been delighted with the way his young team has performed in parts of the last two matches and now wants his players to deliver for longer spells.

He said: “The last 20 minutes at Shoreham was excellent and if we had won 5-1, no-one could’ve complained.

“The first 20 minutes against Cray was the best 20 minutes since I’ve taken over. I thought we were miles the better team in the first 20 minutes and their manager said ‘that’s the best spell we’ve played against’.

“We had six or seven teenagers on the pitch against the best team I’ve seen this year and for us to do that to them in the first 20 minutes paints a positive picture for us moving forwards.

“The big thing for the players now is when we go 1-0 up, can we go two or three? As soon as we went 1-0 up, the players thought ‘we could win it’ and I think a bit of nervousness and apprehension crept into our game.

“Pressure built among the players, whereas at kick-off there was no pressure. Those things will happen with younger players, but they will improve. The great thing with younger players is they’re only going to get better.”

Having drawn three and lost two of their last five league fixtures, Hastings have dropped to 18th in the table.

Their five remaining matches this month are against teams in the bottom half, starting with trips to second-bottom Ashford United tomorrow (Saturday) and Horsham on Tuesday night.

“If we continue to show progress and those 20-minute spells turn into 45 and 60, we’ll be fine,” added Agutter. “We will end up having a much better season than I think a lot of people expect.”

Sam Adams is rated touch and go for tomorrow’s match with the neck and back problem which kept him out of the Cray game. Tom Vickers is thought to need a proper period of recovery having suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury. Jack Dixon is banned for the next three games following his sending-off at Shoreham.

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