It was certainly an action-packed introduction to English football for Dennis Kutrieb in his first competitive game as Fleet boss.
He began pre-season with 10 goals and he kicked-off the season proper with another nine if you include the spot-kicks that sent the Fleet through to the next round of the Emirates FA Cup.
“The bottom line is we are in the next round,” said the manager. “You can see in the penalties there that they wanted to win this game. My wish for the next game is they show us from the first minute they want to win the game, like they did with the penalties.”
Kutrieb switched things around at half-time, with Jack Paxman recording an almost instant influence when he hit the woodwork with a shot.
“That was our best time in the game, for the first 15-20 minutes,” said the Fleet boss. “But to be fair, it was the only time I was happy in the game. We have a lot of things to do. It’s not enough that in 90 minutes, you play 20-25 minutes and the rest not enough.
“As I’ve said in the last week, it’s a big difference to have a friendly to being in a competitive game. We talked about it all week to not feel pressure, to play our game.”
And opponents Hastings United came in for much praise, the Sussex club having come within a whisker of making the third qualifying round against their higher-ranked hosts.
“Big congratulations to our opponents because they did really, really well,” said Kutrieb. “They were in the game for every minute. They’ve played four or five games so they were prepared and we needed too long to get in the game.”
Tom Hadler saved the day with two penalty saves, not to mention another important point-blank stop in the second half, and the manager was pleased with his reaction after Hastings equaliser.
“He made a mistake for the [equaliser] but he kept his head up and he was prepared for the penalties, he saved two of them. The first was a really good save, it was not easy to get the ball. I’m happy for him, like Ben Chapman, because it wasn’t his best game but he brought us to the next round. It’s good for his mood because he’s a really good character.”
Fleet go to Braintree for the league opener on Tuesday, the Iron having also needed penalties to see off Hashtag United in the same competition.
“We are prepared for Braintree, that’s not a big issue. They are in the same situation as us, not having played for six/seven months. All the boys now are awake and they know how to handle it. It’s not friendlies, it’s not pre-season it’s completely different.
“Perhaps it is good we have such a game today. In Germany we say you get a blue eye if you get knocked out or you win a game like this so now everybody’s prepared for the competition.”