Hastings hit goal trail in opening friendlies

Hat-trick hero Daniel Ajakaiye in the thick of the action during Hastings United's pre-season friendly away to Westfield. Picture courtesy Scott White
Hat-trick hero Daniel Ajakaiye in the thick of the action during Hastings United's pre-season friendly away to Westfield. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United Football Club has made an impressive start to its pre-season friendly matches.

The Bostik League South East Division team won 5-1 against the FFDTV academy side at Bexhill College on Saturday and 6-0 away to neighbours Westfield on Tuesday evening.

New Hastings United defender Jahmal Howlett-Mundle gets his head to the ball against Westfield. Picture courtesy Scott White

New Hastings United defender Jahmal Howlett-Mundle gets his head to the ball against Westfield. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings manager Chris Agutter said: “We look physically very good and we’ve played some good stuff.

“Both teams we’ve played were surprised how mobile we were, how aggressive we were and how hard we’ve worked. We’ve worked on a few new ideas and the players have taken them on board.”

Ansu Janneh (2), Sam Beale, Jack Dixon and triallist Bright Temba scored in the opening game, and the manager felt Jahmal Howlett-Mundle, Tom Vickers and Dixon played particularly well.

Agutter said: “Saturday was a decent workout on a really tight pitch. Had it been on The Pilot Field, I think it could’ve been less meaningful.

Antonio Walker on the run against Westfield. Picture courtesy Scott White

Antonio Walker on the run against Westfield. Picture courtesy Scott White

“But where the pitch was quite tight, we were always under pressure, there were lots of challenges and there was a good tempo to the game. For the first pre-season workout it was ideal.”

Daniel Ajakaiye scored a hat-trick, Janneh bagged another brace and Kelvin Ogboe got the other for a full first team against Southern Combination League Division Two side Westfield.

“I think it’s important we fulfil certain obligations and it was an opportunity to support a local team whilst getting the players more minutes on the pitch,” continued Agutter. “It was another beneficial workout for more than just footballing reasons.

“Supporters last season saw an injured Daniel Ajakaiye, but now they’re seeing exactly why I’ve pursued him for such a long time because he’s electric. Over 10, 15 yards, he’s just got blistering pace.

Daniel Ajakaiye in action against Westfield. Picture courtesy Scott White

Daniel Ajakaiye in action against Westfield. Picture courtesy Scott White

“Ansu Janneh has started to show glimpses of what he did around Christmas time last year when he was a mainstay in the team.

“There’s so much competition for places and a lot of variation as well. We’ve got different types of players in the same position. We’ve got a nice mix.”

The two goalkeepers have played 45 minutes in each game, while the outfield players have played at least an hour a time, some 75 minutes.

Agutter says that pattern is likely to continue when Hastings face Southern Combination League Premier Division new boys Little Common at Bexhill College tomorrow (Saturday), kick-off 1pm.

He then plans to split the squad for the games at Newhaven on Tuesday and AFC Uckfield Town on Wednesday, with half the squad going to one game and half to the other, in an effort to increase players’ minutes on the pitch. Both squads will be topped up by youth team players.

“I’m really happy with where we’re at,” Agutter added. “It’s a really decent dressing room. There’s no arrogance of big time Charlie element; they’re all humble, professional lads.”

Mark Stapley has taken sole charge of Westfield after his son Jack, with whom he had been sharing the managerial duties, stepped down to take over the chairman’s role from Graham Knight.

See also: Hastings handed home start to new season
Hastings’ start to pre-season ‘almost too good’

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