Hastings United boss ‘tremendously proud’ of players and season
Chris Agutter said he was proud of his Hastings United players and the football club’s season in the wake of Monday night’s painful play-off defeat.
Hastings were edged out 3-2 after extra-time at home to Ashford United in the Bostik League South East Division play-off semi-finals, the winning goal coming from a 119th minute penalty.
Agutter, Hastings’ manager, said: “I’m tremendously proud of the players, I’m tremendously proud of the season we’ve had.
See also: * Hastings United boss: We controlled the game in play-off defeat* Hastings United suffer agonising extra-time play-off loss* Hastings United secure third place with final day win* 10-man Hastings United draw with fellow play-off hopefuls“It has ultimately been the most successful season the club’s had for a while and it doesn’t feel like it at the minute, but we’ll look back on it and reflect, and I’m sure we’ll feel better about it in a few days.”
The match was watched by a bumper crowd of 1,123 and the long queue of people outside the ground prior to the match evoked memories of the televised FA Cup second round replay victory at home to Harrogate Town in December 2012.
“It was brilliant,” continued Agutter. “This is what I wanted to get into football for. Obviously we’ve all got ambitions to manage higher and manage in front of thousands of people.
“I was here for the FA Cup game when they had their previous run and as we all know the atmosphere was incredible. In our first full season to have brought that type of atmosphere back to The Pilot Field is tremendous.
“I want to say thank you to the supporters, they’ve been tremendous this year. They always travel in their numbers, they’re always loud and very supportive, and it makes a big difference for us.
“When we’re trying to sign players, knowing that they’re going to play in front of 500 or 600, and now obviously 1,000 makes a huge difference. Massive thank you to them, they’ve been incredible and played a huge part in our season.
“I can remember ironically Thamesmead in a midweek game (in October 2017, soon after Agutter took charge) and there were just over 150 people here.
“To add 1,000 to that inside a year is something we’re very proud of and something the players should be very proud of because they’re the ones who have brought crowds back to The Pilot Field.”
Hastings twice went ahead during the second half of normal time only for Ashford to respond quickly on both occasions before landing that decisive blow shortly before the end of the additional half-hour.
Agutter said: “Obviously disappointed, very disappointed. Nobody wants to lose, especially a game of that magnitude.
“The atmosphere tonight was unbelievable, it was brilliant. It was one of the reasons I wanted to be a manager to be honest. Just to feel that sort of atmosphere and that crowd.
“There was over 1,000 here, it was tremendous, and the Ashford United support more than played their part as well.
“Great game, great occasion and unfortunately we made mistakes at key times and got punished for them. Now’s not really the time to talk about individual mistakes and all the rest of it, it’s time just to be disappointed and just try to move forward from it.”