Hastings United Football Club manager Chris Agutter praised his players for grinding out a result in the FA Cup win at home to Kingstonian yesterday (Saturday).
Bostik League South East Division side Hastings triumphed 2-1 at home to Premier Division team Kingstonian in first round qualifying thanks to goals from Daniel Ajakaiye and Sinnkaye Christie.
Agutter said: “I’m really pleased. It was a different type of win as well to what we have done previously. It was more of a grind and a scrap rather than a purist performance like last week (in the 3-0 league win over Phoenix Sports) so it was good, really good.
“It was always going to be a bit more difficult - obviously they’re higher level opposition and got some very, very good players. Just pleased to get through and I think we deserved it in the end.
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“I thought we could’ve been two or three up early doors again. I thought we started really fast, didn’t take all our early chances so we only got a 1-0 lead.
“For them to equalise as quickly as they did was disappointing, but then we reacted as we have done all season so far in the right way and managed to get the winning goal.”
Hastings survived a few nervy moments in the second half before doing enough to book their place in tomorrow’s second round qualifying draw.
“It was a bit stressful, but I just think we caused our own problems at times,” continued Agutter. “It’s amazing when anxiety creeps into the game.
“There’s a brilliant turnout here today (the crowd of 602 was Hastings’ highest since August 2017) and (after) a couple of misplaced passes around your 18-yard box, that sort of anxiety from the crowd creeps onto the pitch and you can see players, not doubting themselves a little bit towards the end, but second guessing themselves rather than doing what they did in the first 20 minutes which pulled Kingstonian apart.
“So I think that meant there was a little bit of anxiety in the way we played, but I’m just pleased to get over the line really. It was stressful, but if it wasn’t stressful I wouldn’t care and the players wouldn’t care.”
Agutter promoted Jamie Fielding into the starting line-up at right-back, even though Emmanuel Mensah had played well in the same position against Phoenix Sports in the previous game, and Fielding vindicated the decision with a performance which earned him the match sponsor’s man of the match award.
“He was excellent,” said Agutter. “We knew they were a big side and we felt they would go longer. From pre-season when we played their left winger Muhammadu Faal was a very, very good player so we just felt that perhaps if Manny (Mensah) had started today, as good as he was last week, he probably would’ve been targeted.
“It was interesting early on all their goal kicks were aimed onto our right-back, which tells me they probably had a plan as if Manny was playing.
“Jamie’s come in - he’s probably our best headerer of the ball at the club - and had a great day at the office, made some great blocks and did his job. Again we emphasise the importance of having a strong squad.”