Hastings United boss: We’re miles away from where we need to be

Chris Agutter admitted Hastings United are ‘miles away’ from the level they need to attain after another difficult week for the football club.

Hastings suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Haywards Heath Town in the Bostik League South East Division on Saturday and 4-0 loss at home to Brighton & Hove Albion under-23s in the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup on Tuesday night.

Sam Cruttwell closes down an opponent during Hastings United's defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion under-23s on Tuesday night. Picture courtesy Scott White

Sam Cruttwell closes down an opponent during Hastings United's defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion under-23s on Tuesday night. Picture courtesy Scott White

Those results mean Hastings have lost their last three league games and are winless in six matches in all competitions.

See also: * Hastings United boss: ‘We gave up’ in defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion
* Hastings United seen off by Brighton & Hove Albion
* Hastings United stay second despite defeat to Haywards Heath Town

Speaking after the Brighton clash, Hastings manager Agutter said: “I’m not at all happy. We’re miles away from where we need to be. We’ve got players giving up tonight, I thought players gave up the last 20 minutes.

“It reminded me a little bit of the team that I inherited (in autumn 2017) that we needed to make a lot of changes (to). The only difference is those weren’t my players, whereas these are players I’ve recruited so I need to take responsibility for it.

“We shouldn’t be happy, irrelevant (of the fact that) we’ve lost three games in a row in the league. We’re not competing at the minute. We want to do the lovely pretty stuff, but we’re not doing the ugly stuff, which is really disappointing and something we need to look at.

Hastings have somehow clung on to second place in the league despite their slump in form, although they’re only two points ahead of Whyteleafe in sixth.

“It’s down to the players to step up to be honest,” continued Agutter. “Against Haywards Heath I think I could’ve reacted far quicker and I take responsibility for that, but the players are extremely well prepared, their jobs are very clear but when they’re out there it’s down to them to produce and perform - and at the minute they’re not.

“The forwards aren’t taking their chances, which they were early on in the season which was getting us through, and the defenders are making mistakes.

“What we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks is teams have defended in a similar sort of way which we’ve struggled to break down at times and when we have broken them down we haven’t taken our chances.”

Hastings sorely need a positive result when they entertain ninth-placed VCD Athletic today (Saturday). Kick-off at The Pilot Field is 3pm.

Leading scorer Daniel Ajakaiye is suspended for the next two games, while Sam Beale was carried off against Brighton with an ankle injury which soon swelled up badly and Adam Lovatt came off at half time in the same match. Sam Adams, Lanre Azeez and Hassan Ibrahim are also short of full fitness.

Teenage midfielder Lovatt went on trial with Sky Bet Championship high-flyers Leeds United last week.

Agutter said: “It went alright by all accounts. To be fair I’ve not had a great deal of feedback. All I know it finished after two days. I think he did alright.

“It’s an ongoing thing and there’s plenty of other clubs that are interested at the minute, but to be honest I’m not really too worried and Adam shouldn’t be either.

“Adam should be concentrating on Hastings United because that’s what created the opportunities for him in terms of his good work for Hastings United so he just needs to keep that up and the rest will look after itself.”