Hastings United manager Chris Agutter slammed ‘the worst referee we’ve had this year’ after the football club’s cup defeat last night.
Hastings lost 2-1 at home to Merstham in round two of the Bostik League Velocity Trophy after having captain Sam Adams sent-off for a second yellow card in the 78th minute.
Agutter said: “I don’t want to talk too much about the ref because I think if we win I don’t talk about him, but he wasn’t great. I said he’s going to send someone off; it had that feel about it.
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“The worst ref we’ve had this year by a mile. It was very much all about him. Very arrogant, didn’t want to communicate and just seemed intent on being involved really. He must’ve had a bad journey down because he was so poor.
“I always think if you know the referee’s out there, he’s probably not the best. Even both his two assistant referees were almost apologising for him.
“It’s not a sending-off. Sammy’s slipped over and his momentum took him through to the player (in the foul which led to his second caution). But these things happen. It is what it is, just get on with it.”
Despite missing out on a place in the last 16, Agutter was far more impressed with the performance of his team than the official.
“First half you definitely wouldn’t have said they’re the league above and that’s no disrespect to Merstham because they’re decent; I think that’s all credit to our lads really,” he continued.
“I thought we played really well and created enough chances again to come away with a winning margin, just unfortunately we didn’t take them tonight.
“No-one likes losing, but as I’ve said to the players, I don’t think too much about the scoreline, we talk very much about the processes and the performance, and this was another performance that ticked an awful lot of boxes to be honest.”
All the goals came during a five-minute spell early in the second half. Jahmal Howlett-Mundle brought Hastings level only to inadvertently set up Merstham’s winner by giving the ball away just outside his own penalty area.
“It was soft (the winning goal),” added Agutter. “I think that’s the best Jahmal’s played for Hastings. I thought he was excellent tonight, his all-round game was superb.
“Trying to play the way we want to play, you’re going to make mistakes. The players accept that, I accept that, that’s the way we want to play, that’s the way that’s chalked up an awful lot of wins this season and got us sitting comfortably in second in the league and in a good position to compete with Cray (Wanderers) for top spot. These things happen.
“Maybe someone’s looking down on us because all our defeats look like they’re coming in and around the cups. It’s a shame really because I want to win every game, but if you said to me we’re going to lose Saturday or tonight, it certainly would’ve been tonight.”