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Dover Athletic manager Andy Hessenthaler reacts to home National League defeat to Stockport County

Andy Hessenthaler admits Dover's four-match winless streak in the National League has eroded the squad's confidence.

Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to Stockport means Whites have taken just one point out of the last 12 – a run which has seen them slip out of the play-off places and down to 16th.

Dover boss Hessenthaler said he could not fault his players' effort against County, but concedes their self-belief has taken a knock, particularly at home where they have won just once in nine matches.

Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler Picture: Phil Lee
Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler Picture: Phil Lee

Hessenthaler, whose side are still only four points off fifth, said: "I'm not going to be too critical of the boys. We've lost our way confidence wise for some reason, we're not doing the basics right.

"We're not going to make excuses, but it doesn't help when you lose your captain (Kevin Lokko to injury) fairly early on and have to change the shape.

"All week we've worked on those three centre-halves, but we're having a sticky spell.

"It happens, we had a great spell last year and that's what happens in football some times.

"I've just said to them, that they're losing their confidence but we've got to get that back.

"We've got to do the basics better and we didn't do that today.

"I've not slaughtered them in there, but we've spoken about things.

"We've got this group of players we know are capable but at the moment we're not doing it."

Hessenthaler picked former Crawley keeper Yusuf Mersin for his league debut, ahead of regular No.1 Lee Worgan, and he thought the 25-year-old acquitted himself well.

The Dover boss certainly did not attach any blame to Mersin for the spectacular 40-yard strike from County's Frank Mulhern which won the game on the half-hour.
Hessenthaler explained: "I just wanted to give him his opportunity and I thought he made some great saves.

"At the end of the day he's kept the score down where they've got in too easy, for me he's done all right

"It was a fantastic strike (by Mulhern), we've still got to do better off the throw-in.

"Off the throw-in the No. 7 (Adam Thomas) has picked it up and played him in, he's hit it straight away.

"To be fair, where the ball is, Yusuf is in the right position, you wouldn't expect him to be standing on his line, given how high the ball was up.

"It was a fantastic opportunist strike and fair play to the lad, but they had other opportunities and we created what, a couple of chances, and that at home isn't good enough.

"We've got to do better, we've lost our way from the start of the season.

"Certainly away from home, we've found a way to win but at home we're finding it difficult.

"It is a concern and we've got to deal with that."

Whites lost Nassim L'Ghoul and Joe Bedford to hamstring problems ahead of the game, and Lokko, Ricky Modeste and Will De Havilland all limped off during it, leaving Whites to play the final nine minutes with 10 men.

Hessenthaler remains hopeful that Bedford and L'Ghoul could return for Tuesday when Whites return to Crabble to face his former club, Eastleigh.

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