Andy Hessenthaler has praised the hunger and attitude of his youthful Dover side, but insists they need to eliminate individual errors if they are to remain in the National League this season.
The Whites boss has seen his team suffer back-to-back defeats on their travels against promotion-chasing Bromley and Stockport during the past week – the latter a disappointing 3-0 defeat on Saturday.
However, with a perhaps unexpected three points already on the board following the team’s opening day triumph at home to Notts County, Hessenthaler believes his squad have everything required to fight for points in most games this campaign.
“We were pleased at half-time with how well we limited Stockport to chances on Saturday, but unfortunately during the second half a lack of concentration and a poor decision gave them a lift,” he said.
“But we have made some bad decisions and individual errors over the last couple of games, and you can’t do that against the top sides because you’ll get punished.
“So giving teams goals when they haven’t earned them has been our biggest downfall so far, because otherwise our games would have been a lot tighter.
“The Bromley match was never a 4-1 – we just shot ourselves in the foot by not defending things like a long ball down the middle, so if we cut things like that out I definitely believe we’ll be in most games this season.
“In the end, Stockport still deserved to win on Saturday, but for the first 45 minutes I was pleased – it was like the Notts County match at home when we were solid and always in the game.
“That’s something we’re going to have to do this season, because we know we’re going to be up against it at times, and at the weekend we had a very young team.
“It had three teenagers and a 21-year-old on the bench, so that’s why we have to keep working hard because each game is a challenge for us, but the boys have shown great effort and desire in what is a really good changing room.
“Of course, if somebody had said though at the start of the season that we would have got three points against Notts County, Bromley and Stockport, I’d have taken it.”
The former Gillingham manager also believes making the Crabble a fortress this term will prove decisive in how they ultimately fare come the season’s climax in May.
He explained: “We’ve got to try and win our home games, and I think that’s going to be important when you consider what we have to achieve to stay in the division this year.
“Making it difficult for opposition teams when they come to the Crabble is something we have to make sure we do, and we did that well in our first game.
“I think for a team like us at the moment, away games could also be harder without any fans because in normal circumstances like on Saturday, their fans would have started to get frustrated with it at 0-0.”
He continued: “But we have also been unlucky when you consider we lost Harry Ransom for three to four weeks against Bromley, and then Josh Passley and Paul Rooney both picked up injuries before that, so that makes it tough with seven games this month.
“That’s why you have to give a lot of credit to the academy manager, Mike Sandmann, who is doing a fantastic job, and that showed on Saturday with Will Moses who has a bright future and all the attributes needed to progress.
“He’s not long turned 17 and has just come out of the academy to make his debut, and then gone back to school on Monday, so he’s only going to improve as he gets used to playing at this level rather than at academy level, which is obviously completely different.”
Dover are next in action on Saturday when they play their fifth game of the season with a trip to Devon to face Torquay.