Chippenham test holds no fear for Hastings boss Agutter

The FA Cup brings Hastings United’s toughest test of the season so far tomorrow (Sat Oct 2) – but boss Chris Agutter insists they head to Chippenham unfazed by the task in hand.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 8:45 am
Sam Hasler struck another goal in the win over Dunstable - can he help Hastings pull off a Cup surprise at Chippenham? Picture: Scott White

The Us made it six wins in a row in all competitions last Saturday with a 3-0 FA Trophy win over Dunstable.

Now their focus switches to the third qualifying round of the Cup and a trip to Wiltshire to play a side who sit fourth in National League South, two divisions above Hastings.

But Agutter said his team had shown in matches against Weymouth and Ebbsfleet in the past two years they could compete with step two teams.

“It’s a good draw and should be a good occasion,” he said. “We’ve shown against Weymouth and Ebbsfleet what we can do.

“Even the most partisan Ebbsfleet fan, when they beat us on penalties in the FA Cup last season, would have said we were the better team. We look forward to the challenge and it will be unusual for us to go into a game where the expectation is not on us to win. We have a group of players who don’t worry me at all when it comes to big games.”

Key man Ryan Worrall may return after recovering from ankle damage.

A double by Ben Pope and another Sam Hasler goal at home to Dunstable eased Hastings through to an FA Trophy second qualifying round tie at home to Ashford United – a fixture they should have played in the league this midweek only for the fuel shortage to see games called off.

Hastings CEO Billy Wood was surprised how quickly Ashford asked for the postponement after the league said clubs could opt out of games over the fuel issue and he tweeted: “I don’t get why we couldn’t have waited til the day of the game to see if this fuel situation continues. Calling it off on the Sunday to me shows Ashford United didn’t fancy it.”

Agutter said he was not surprised the Isthmian League made what he called a kneejerk reaction to the fuel shortage and added: “They’ve got form for that.”

The call-off does mean United will have gone four weeks without a league game by the time they host Whitstable on October 12. But Agutter said: “It doesn’t matter. We’ll have games in hand and will catch up.”