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Dover Athletic putting their faith in youngsters as National League season enters final few weeks

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Dover Athletic boss Andy Hessenthaler believes his young guns will be better for the experience.

With resources tight and a long injury list, Hessenthaler has been dipping into the club’s youth ranks to keep them going for the season run-in.

Andy Hessenthaler has had to turn to youth at Dover Athletic Picture: Stuart Brock
Andy Hessenthaler has had to turn to youth at Dover Athletic Picture: Stuart Brock

He admitted a late defeat at Chesterfield last weekend - where he had six under-18s in the squad - may have been down to that inexperience but the young players are learning.

“They have certainly shown they can play at this level and if they can play at this level then they can definitely play at the league below,” said the Whites boss.

“We have to do it as a club and we have a good academy and we also know that you can’t have too many youngsters in the team and that has probably been shown over the last few games, you can have a few, but definitely it is good for the future.

“Coming up against the likes of Wrexham and those kind of crowds, they may never play infront of that kind of atmosphere again, but hopefully they will, looking at the players I think they have got bright futures.

“It is a great experience, a tough experience as well, because of the situation we are in but for me they can only learn and get better for the experience. Ity all bodes well for their future.”

Dover lost 3-2 at Chesterfield on Saturday but were leading 2-1 with just eight minutes left before the home side fought back. It’s a sign that Hessenthaler’s men may be down but they’re not out.

“It was disappointing (to lose) but the effort from the players were phenomenal,” said the Whites boss.

“It comes down to game management and that goes against you when you have so many young players in the team, I think if we had a bit more experience in the team, certainly for the second goal it wouldn’t have happened, because we would have been a lot more experienced and ready for the onslaught, we knew that was going to come after going 2-1 up at their place with 10 minutes to go.

“It would have put a spanner in their works and I know their manager well, he said credit to our players for running us that close.

“One thing we are doing is that we are still respecting the league and having a go because we could have thrown the towel in a long time ago.”

Dover followed it up with a 3-0 defeat to Notts County at Crabble on Tuesday night.

Whites had defender Myles Judd sent off early in the second half and play-off chasing Notts opened the scoring on the hour. They sealed the victory with two late goals.

The teams meet again at the County Ground for the reverse fixture on Bank Holiday Monday.

Before that match is a home visit from mid-table Altrincham. Hessenthaler is expecting another tough afternoon on Saturday.

He said: “We had a good game up there, it seems like a long time ago (on September 4), we put on a good show but it was another frustrating one where we were winning the game and unfortunately ended up losing by the odd goal.

“They are a good footballing side and they have done well, it would be nice for us to get a couple of wins.”

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