Chris Agutter is hoping the heaviest defeat of his reign as Hastings United Football Club manager will prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Hastings were beaten 5-2 at home to high-riding Greenwich Borough last weekend - only their second loss in 14 Bostik League Division One South matches and the most goals they’ve conceded in any game this season.
Agutter said: “It could be a blessing in disguise. We’ve been on a really good run and the week before we produced our best performance of the season (in the 3-0 win at Herne Bay).
“Maybe one or two were getting a bit carried away and neglected the uglier aspects of the game that are really important.
“We were all over Herne Bay like a rash, very aggressive, very much on the front foot from a pressing point of view.
“Against Greenwich we were nowhere near as intense off the ball as we have been and nowhere near as fluent on the ball. I don’t think that was particularly because Greenwich disrupted us. I just think we had a poor day at the office.
“It’s a little reminder for the players if we forget the uglier side of the game, that’s the sort of thing that will happen. We’re putting it behind us, but also refer to it as a reminder (of what happens) if the bare minimum isn’t in place.”
Greenwich are now top of the form table having picked up 16 points from their last six games and possess several players with higher level experience.
“I thought for every individual mistake we made, we got punished,” continued Agutter. “It reminded me of a couple of levels higher.
“I think against Ramsgate and East Grinstead (both of whom Hastings beat over the festive period) we made mistakes and didn’t get punished for it. Guernsey are higher quality opposition and they punished us for every mistake we made.
“I look at all five (Greenwich) goals and every single one of them was avoidable. But they were very ruthless, and I think them and Cray are the two best teams we’ve seen.”
Hastings’ opening goal was scored by Daniel Ajakaiye, a loan signing from Kingstonian whose debut was ended by injury immediately after scoring.
“To be honest I wasn’t in the market for a centre-forward, but when a player like Daniel becomes available, you’ve got to try and tie him down,” said Agutter, who previously enquired about the player when he first took over as manager.
“He scored a great goal with one leg and he’s a really good signing. He can play anywhere across the front three, and we want to get to the stage where the front three interchange positions and move a bit more freely.”
Ajakaiye went to hospital on Monday and is thought to have strained ankle ligaments, making him touch and go for the trip to Sittingbourne today (Saturday).
Also on the injury front, Jack Dixon came through training on Tuesday night unscathed but Antonio Walker is thought to be another week from fitness.
Tom Vickers and Sam Cole picked up valuable game time on their return from injury by playing 90 minutes for Crowborough Athletic on Tuesday night.
“We’re just focusing on getting the process right,” added Agutter. “We’re not talking about points, winning, losing or drawing, or where we are in the league.”