Hastings United manager Chris Agutter said Youssouf Bamba proved why he was so keen to bring the winger to the football club with his match-winning double against Three Bridges.
Bamba scored two tremendous goals as Hastings consolidated second place in the Bostik League South East Division with a 2-1 victory at The Pilot Field on Saturday.
Agutter said: “That’s why I’ve chased him for a while really because they’re goals out of nothing. Second goal I think he’s beaten four players, beaten one player twice, and rattled the bottom corner.
“He’s a match-winner. When we watched Cray (Wanderers) and Walton (Casuals) in the play-off semi-finals last year we said ‘what’s the difference between them and us’? We just felt they had more match-winners and that’s why we’ve worked hard to bring Youssouf in.
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“He will get the plaudits and rightly so, he was outstanding, but the shift Daniel Ajakaiye and Lanre Azeez put in from the front was top drawer.
“I think the way we defend from the front is excellent. Those two worked their socks off and really grafted today.”
As someone who likes his team to play out from the back, Agutter was particularly pleased with the first goal as Bamba rounded-off a superb team move which started with goalkeeper Charlie Horlock.
“The best goal we’ve scored since I’ve been manager, brilliant,” continued Agutter. “We didn’t turn down opportunities to play forwards. There’s a perception that I really enjoy watching the ball being passed round at the back - it’s not - I don’t like the ball being moved side to side needlessly.
“When we can play forwards, I want us to play forwards. We’ve cut through them really quickly and it was a great goal, brilliantly finished.”
Although certainly not their most free-flowing performance of the season, Hastings did enough to preserve their 100% home league record and take their tally to 24 points from a possible 27 ahead of next Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash away to Cray Wanderers.
“It wasn’t pretty, really wasn’t pretty,” Agutter went on. “But credit where credit’s due, Three Bridges were a good side - another team I think, similar to Guernsey really, their league position is false.
“They caused us a lot of problems when we went 2-1 (up) and could’ve gone 2-2 a couple of times really.
“It wasn’t pretty, but games like that last season we draw or lose, we definitely drop points, so that’s good progress. Another three points on the board.
“All everyone’s speaking about is Cray, just assuming we’re going to win today. When I’ve turned up at the ground today I’ve had people say to me ‘we’ll take another 4-0’.
“It’s not like that. Teams obviously see where we are in the league, know what we’re all about, and they’re not going to come here and roll over.
“Yes we won 4-0 in the week, but against Greenwich that was the last 30 seconds of the game we were 4-0 up. We knew Three Bridges was going to be tough, I’m just pleased we’ve got through it.”
Agutter confirmed that captain Sam Adams came off early in the second half due to injury and praised the display of Jack Dixon, who came on in his place.
“Jack’s played more than any other midfield player this year,” he added. “We thought maybe it’s an opportunity to give Hass (Ibrahim) a go, but to be fair to Dicko, he’s come on and you can see why he’s played so much for us (with) how influential he’s been.
“From Christmas onwards last season I think Jack’s been outstanding and when we came on today I think he’s had a big impact on the game.”