There’s so much more to come from table-topping Hastings United Football Club, according to its manager Chris Agutter.
Hastings have won their opening five matches in all competitions this season and sit top of the Bostik League South East Division with 12 points out of 12.
Speaking after last weekend’s convincing 3-0 win at home to Phoenix Sports, Agutter said: “The biggest positive is the fact that there’s so much more to come - that’s not a cliche, there is so much more to come.
“The more players get familiar playing with each other and relationships build in terms of on the pitch, the better we will get.
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“Also you think of the players that weren’t involved today. Sam Adams came back in and did a great shift up top when he came on, Alex Smith, and not even in the squad today was Ansu (Janneh) and James Pool so we’re looking strong and I’m really pleased.”
Hastings are the division’s leading scorers with 14 league goals (plus three in the Emirates FA Cup) and possess the joint best goal difference.
Asked how excited supporters should be about the club’s prospects this season, Agutter continued: “As excited as we are really. We said in the summer we’ve got a good group.
“I said towards the back end of last year we were very close to being a very good side and I said over the summer that we’ve strengthened, which I think is clear we have.
“I’m really pleased. I think there should be a positive feeling around the club, but obviously that’s not getting carried away. No season’s won at the end of August, first week of September, but we’re really pleased.”
It’s back to the FA Cup today (Saturday) and an intriguing-looking first round qualifying tie at home to higher grade Kingstonian. Kick-off is 3pm.
Kingstonian are third-bottom of the early Bostik League Premier Division table with four points from six games. A pre-season friendly between the clubs at The Pilot Field ended 1-1.
“They’re a really good side,” added Agutter. “They’ll be there or thereabouts in the league above, they’re very well managed, and they’ll be very well prepared.
“We’ll go into the game not underdogs as such, but they’ll be expected to win. It will quite nice in terms of not the pressure being off, because we expect to win every game we play especially here at The Pilot Field, so the pressure won’t be off, but it’s a different type of game.
“We felt that before the VCD game (in the previous round). It’s almost nice to come away from the expectations in the league and play with a bit more freedom. Against Kingstonian the fact that they’re a league above I think will only help us actually.”
If a replay is needed, it will take place at Corinthian Casuals FC on Wednesday with a 7.45pm kick-off.
Alex Smith was due to have returned from injury in the development squad match on Monday night, but has suffered a setback with his knee and Agutter says the club is unsure how long he’ll be sidelined for.
Agutter is hopeful, though, of signing a versatile attacking player, if not in time for today’s game, then before the league match at Hythe Town next weekend.
Smith aside, Hastings have a fairly clean bill of health. Tom Vickers missed the Phoenix clash with a slight hamstring pull, but Agutter hopes he will be available today.