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Dagenham & Redbridge 3 Dover Athletic 1: Match reaction from Whites assistant manager Nicky Southall

Nicky Southall admits he has never known anything quite like it as Dover’s wait for a first win of a torrid season goes on.

Assistant manager Southall watched Whites fall to an 18th National League loss in 22 games in their 2021/22 campaign on Sunday, going down 3-1 at fifth-placed Dagenham.

Dover assistant manager Nicky Southall. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Dover assistant manager Nicky Southall. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Dover are still without a win this season, have lost six successive matches in all competitions and they are 24 points from safety - and Southall concedes they must defend better as a team.

But when asked if he and manager Andy Hessenthaler were resigned to relegation, the 49-year-old replied: “Not at all. We just want to win some football matches.

“Obviously, we know it’s going to be tough. You can’t hide behind it - it’s tough at the minute.

“We just want to win some football matches for our own sanity and everybody elses’ sanity around because I have never been involved in something like this throughout my career.

“I’ve won promotions with various teams but never known anything like it, especially with the effort the boys are putting in. In 10 (league) games this season, we have lost by one goal.

“The margins are so fine but you won’t fall the right side of those margins if you are not switched on and not concentrating - or you make that mistake that lets the opposition in. With the way things are, it’ll drop and end up in the net.

“We have just got to keep battling and keep going forward.”

The Daggers went 2-0 up through cracking first-half strikes by Junior Morias and Josh Walker.

Striker Alfie Pavey got one back for Whites early in the second half but ex-Ebbsfleet winger Myles Weston restored the home team’s two-goal lead at Victoria Road to seal the points.

Southall reflected: “We got back to 2-1 just after half-time and you are thinking ‘We have the wind behind us and we should be full of confidence’. But the ball gets rolled across the box and we find ourselves 3-1 down.

“You are pulling your hair out on the touchline! I know the players, fans and everyone at the club is desperate for that win - but we have got to help ourselves.

“We have got to defend better. You can see we are a threat going forward.

“We scored two away at Woking (in a 3-2 defeat) and scored against an outfit that should be where they are with the budget they have got (in Dagenham).

“As crazy as it sounds, I think we could have won 5-4! I know Alexis (Andre Jr) made a great double save. It was a world-class double save in my opinion because the ball was moving around.

“But first half, their keeper has made a good save from Jake Goodman and Willo (Ben Williamson) had one pushed around the post.

“We have got to help ourselves and the only way to help ourselves is to defend better as a team. You can’t just blame the defenders.

“It starts from the front. I’ve always been a big believer in defending from the front because it makes it a lot easier for the boys behind.”

Full-back Junior Tiensia, who set up Pavey’s goal with a left-wing cross, is now due back at parent club Millwall - with Southall saying discussions between the clubs to extend Tiensia's stay at Crabble are ongoing.

Southall revealed: “We are speaking to Millwall at the minute and we’re going to see what they have got planned with him - whether he stays or goes.

“He’s been a good signing for us, so fingers crossed. He’s someone we want to try and keep.”

Midfielder Henry Woods' loan at Crabble will end on January 10, with Gillingham manager Steve Evans keen to consider their options before agreeing an extension.

The match at Dagenham was also Dover’s first since top scorer Aaron Cosgrave had been recalled by AFC Wimbledon - albeit he had not featured recently with Whites saying he had tested positive for Covid.

“We miss his pace in the team,” Southall conceded. “He stretches defenders.

“We have Alfie up there but he’s a different striker. He needs the service coming in from the sides, whereas Aaron needs it down the sides and running onto things.

“We are looking to bring in another striker or maybe two to give us a few more options, as well as (making signings) in the centre-back position."

Dover host sixth-placed Notts County this Saturday.

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