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Dover Athletic manager Andy Hessenthaler says his squad have accepted the National League play-off challenge

Dover boss Andy Hessenthaler insisted his players believe they can make the play-offs this season.

Whites answered critics of their home form after goals from Will de Havilland and Michael Woods secured a 2-1 win over National League title favourites Barrow last midweek – their third home win in four games.

Dover boss Andy Hessenthaler Picture: Andy Jones
Dover boss Andy Hessenthaler Picture: Andy Jones

It leaves them just outside the play-off places ahead of Saturday’s trip to Eastleigh and Tuesday’s return fixture against Barrow in Cumbria.

“The belief is there and we just have to continue now and keep trying to push, but take each game as it comes,” said Hessenthaler.

“Barrow are beating everybody, aren’t they? It was the first time that they have lost in 18 matches so they are a good side.

“For me, I think they will win the league, I really do. (Boss) Ian Evatt has done a fantastic job there but it must give us belief.

“We are getting players back now. If we can continue (playing) with that intensity, we will have a chance.”

Michael Woods, right, was on target in the win over Barrow Picture: Alan Langley
Michael Woods, right, was on target in the win over Barrow Picture: Alan Langley

Dover travel to Hessenthaler’s former club Eastleigh this weekend.

Whites won the home game 3-1 in October, and a similar result will see them retain the division’s best away record.

“There’s a long way to go,” added Hessenthaler. “We just have to keep playing like we did against Barrow and keep working hard in training.

“There’s always (an added edge) when you go back to an old club. I have good friends there and there are some good people.

“They have a good manager in Ben Strevens, he’s a very good friend of mine, and the staff are all great people. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“They are a good side and they’ll know that we are a good side. Let’s hope that we can go there and keep our away form going.”

Dover then make the return journey to Barrow. The leaders are seven points clear at the top but Hessenthaler knows the key to victory after Whites won on home soil.

“The work-rate was fantastic,” he noted. “We stopped them from playing.

“We had a game plan to stop them from playing because they are a good footballing side and they pushed us back in the second half, to be fair.

“Their shape, with the three centre-halves and the wing-backs, was causing us problems.

“They were taking risks because they had to as they were losing the game.”

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