Hastings' fitness levels show value of thorough manager, says United chief
Hastings United chief Billy Wood has been watching every minute of the first team’s build-up to the season – and says he is highly impressed by their fitness levels.
Manager Chris Agutter has a stated aim of making his team fitter, bigger and stronger this season – even compared to last term, when the Us topped the Isthmian south-east division.
So far Agutter’s side have beaten Eastbourne United, Westfield and Grays. But they lost their latest friendly, going down to a surprise 1-0 defeat to SCFL side Newhaven on Wednesday night. Next up is a trip to Hampshire to play Alresford tomorrow.
Wood said: “You learn when you lose and maybe the defeat was a good thing. Sometimes a winning team needs alittle kick up the backside.
“But overall, I’ve been impressed in what I’ve seen in pre-season. We look bigger, stronger and better. We look to have the best squad we’ve had. Some of the additions that have come in have looked fantastic.
“The fact the lads are so fit is down to them looking after themselves and down to Chris and his staff, who set every player their own fitness regime. They were thorough and have set levels of professionalism we require through the whole club.”
Wood singled out evergreen skipper Sammy Adams for praise, saying he had shown an appetite for the pre-season action that would not always be evident from a player in the twilight of a career.
“He has made nearly 600 appearances for the club yet still has a hunger and attitude, even in friendlies, like he would have done in his first game,” Wood added.
If he can show that at this stage of his career, there’s no reason for anyone else not to.”
There’s been an early outbreak of FA Cup fever at Hastings United with news the club’s women have been accepted into their version of the world’s most famous football knockout competition.
Hastings Women will play in the extra preliminary round on Sunday, September 6.
They don’t yet know who they will play – the draw is due to take place on August 21 – but are delighted to have been accepted as a newly formed team.
Hastings CEO Billy Wood said: “It’s momentous for us as a club. We’re overjoyed the team have been accepted. It’s creating quite a buzz.
“When you consider how our men’s team have made FA Cup headlines on occasions, such as the trip to Middlesbrough a few years ago, it will be great to have two teams from the club playing in the different versions of the FA Cup.”
One player to watch when the women do get stuck into their Cup tie will be Izzy Payne.
In a friendly against Rustington Raiders the Bexhill ace was involved in all Hastings’ goals in an 8-4 win - scoring five and setting up the other three.