Published: 06:00, 15 March 2020
Andy Hessenthaler felt Dover Athletic deserved something from the game as they drew 1-1 with Chesterfield on Saturday.
Whites looked set to fall to their third successive National League loss when striker Tom Denton gave the rapidly-improving Spireites the lead from the penalty spot, only for substitute Nassim L'Ghoul to equalise late on.
Coronavirus fears have led to the suspension of Premier League and Football League action until at least April 3 but the show went on for most National League clubs this weekend, with six league fixtures being played.
“It would have been harsh if we lost the game,” said Whites boss Hessenthaler.
“I thought there was some really good play by us at times but, in the final third, we didn’t test their keeper (Shwan Jalal) enough, did we?
“In the first half, from our own attacks, they counter-attacked on us through a couple of mistakes and Worgs (Dover keeper Lee Worgan) has had to make a couple of saves, and he did very well to be fair to him. But we kept plugging away.
“Obviously a lot has been said, leading up to the game in terms of (the state of) football at the moment.
“It easily could have fizzled out into a non-event.
“But the boys kept going, they (Chesterfield) kept going, they are fighting for their lives and we got something out the game which we deserved.”
Hessenthaler says he got the reaction he wanted from Dover’s players against the Spireites, who had won three of their last four matches prior to their trip to Crabble, after 12th-placed Whites’ 1-0 league defeat to Yeovil last weekend.
He said: “I wanted a response in terms of effort this week because, looking at the statistics and the GPS from the Yeovil game, it was the lowest this season.
“If it’s going to be that low, you won’t win football matches.
“I needed a response from the boys in that respect, and they gave me that.
“We lost Inih Effiong before the game, he has picked a (knee) injury and then, during the game, Kevin Lokko has picked up another injury and (there was) an (ankle) injury to Ricky Modeste which is unfortunate.”
On winger L’Ghoul’s goal, Hessenthaler said: “It was a great finish from Nas.
“We said in there (Dover’s dressing room after the match) that we needed to find more of that quality during the game.
“Chesterfield are a big side. They have three big centre-halves and they, obviously, have the big boy Denton up front with Nathan Tyson and we all know where Nathan has played.
"So the players they have on the pitch for them are phenomenal at times.
“We said we needed to try and move the ball… We did try and pass it but we needed that bit of quality and that bit of quality came right at the death.”
As things stand, Dover, who are four points outside the play-off places, are next due to be in action at Eastleigh on Tuesday but there continues to be uncertainty over whether matches will go ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Hessenthaler said: “We just said in there that we don’t know (if the match will go ahead).
“We knew this game was on, we have played it and we have dealt with it.”
He added: “The boys have their own WhatsApp group and I’m sure they all have been thinking, as well as the Chesterfield players, ‘What is going on’?
“But the chairman (Jim Parmenter), to be fair to him, has explained it before the game.
“It hasn’t been taken out of our hands like the other leagues but do I think it will get taken out of our hands? Probably yeah.”