Hessenthaler pleased as Dover climb
Hessenthaler pleased as Dover climb

Dover Athletic are out of the bottom four of the National League after their Boxing Day come from behind win in the Kent derby at Crabble against Maidstone United.

KSN spoke to Andy Hessenthaler after the win and to look ahead to Crabble’s next visitors – National League leaders Leyton Orient.

Credit where credit’s due to Maidstone,” Hessenthaler told us. “First half they created problems for us with the way they dropped off and played in behind and we got frustrated and it resulted in Stuart Lewis’ mistake, but everyone’s made mistakes like that with back passes.”

“We just looked at it as a management team – we were getting a little bit frustrated and we decided to make a couple of changes at half time and it worked. I said to the boys we took off that it was purely tactical, and we had to try something different and to let us get an extra striker up front with Effiong certainly helped.”

“(Alfie) Pavey made a difference as did Scott Doe by allowing us to push Mitch Brundle into midfield and so it worked for us and the lads were excellent in the second half and it was a good three points.

Reflecting on his side’s TV defeat at Barnet last weekend, the Dover boss admitted, “I think we ran out of ideas a little bit – it was unlike us. I do think that we looked a little bit tired, but I think again we got frustrated in the second half as before half time, we should have punished them a couple of times from the positions that we were in and probably should have come in winning the game at half time but didn’t!”

“I wasn’t that unhappy then, but we then conceded a sloppy goal and could only huff and puff if I’m honest. It’s the first time I think that we dropped our heads a little bit and went a bit quiet during the game and let it pass us by in the second half.”

“So it was disappointing but I cant be too critical as the boys have been excellent in so many games, and we went into Boxing Day looking to bounce back and I’m so delighted that we did.

The three points on Boxing Day took Dover to 19th – a position that looked a long way off when Hessenthaler returned to the club with them bottom of the table.

It’s a step in the right direction and physiologically it’s great that we’re looking up the table,” Hessenthaler said.

The next game is important – we’ve learned and know that as we’ve still got a long way to go. We’re probably going to have to win half the games we’ve got left – we’ve got twenty to go, and I reckon win nine or ten of those and we’ll be where we want to be.”

“Again, its keeping our form – keep the basics – keep our standards up to where they have been and if we drop those standards, we’ll have a problem again! And that’s the challenge for us as a group… and I say “group” as it’s about the sixteen as I’m finding it quite difficult to pick a bench at the minute because we’ve got the players available.”

“That’s the key – stick together, keep our standards up and I believe we’ll be OK. It did take us – and I underline that includes all my staff – a few weeks to get to know the players and everyone knew that from Chairman to supporters that it wasn’t going to change over night and will need some time to get us going and get us to where we needed to be.”

“And that has proved the case and now that we’ve got there, it’s great to have that competition for places – we can’t keep everyone happy and I’m sure that once the Christmas period is over there will be players – and some have already come and spoken to me and I didn’t want anyone going out during this period,”

“But a couple of players have come and seen me already and they need to be playing and we may well get to the stage where we let them go out on loan for them to be getting games as you have to remember that some of them will be out of contract and I get that being an ex-player.”

“So we’re going to have that situation but at the moment we need everyone available and we’ll go from there. I’d like to keep everyone as we’ve built a good group but know that that will probably not be possible as some players need to be playing.

And true to his word, Hessenthaler then turned his attention to his side’s next game and that visit from the leaders.

They’ve had a fantastic season so far and it doesn’t surprise me where they are” he said.

Perhaps they should be where they are what with the size of the club. We all know about the troubled time they’ve had in recent years and I was part of that with the Italian owner.”

“But I’m delighted that they’ve now got it right and they’ve a load of good people there with an excellent fan base and an excellent manager – Justin really knows how to get the best out of his players and I’m sure that come Saturday, we’ll have the test that we’ll expect from the side that are top of the League at Christmas.