Published: 11:48, 27 January 2021
| Updated: 11:52, 27 January 2021
Dover boss Andy Hessenthaler hailed two-goal Will De Havilland – but he still wants him to become Mr Angry.
De Havilland scored twice as Whites stuffed Barnet 3-1 on Tuesday night to climb off the foot of the National League.
The towering centre-back has come under fire from his manager this season but he has upped in his game in recent weeks, to the delight of his boss.
“It was great for Will,” said Hessenthaler. “He has been excellent in the last few games.
“I expect a lot from him. He knows what I think of him, he is a fantastic lad and, in his defence, we’ve not been able to get settled around him.
“It’s been difficult for him as he’s had different people alongside him during the season. But now we’ve got Harry Ransom to the end of the season, Marvel Ekpiteta has come back in and Paul Rooney is close so we’re looking a lot stronger there.
“Will has been the only one who has been playing regularly. He has dug in and he can nick a few goals for us like he did last year. He said it’s fallen to him and we’ve got that bit of luck that we needed.
“He led the team really well and put his body on the line for us. He has to stand up and be counted and he did that.
“He is a really lovely lad and I keep saying to him when he crosses that white line that he needs to become angry and not nice, but that’s not easy for everyone to do.
“When I was playing, I was able to do it. On the pitch I was a right horrible person and I didn’t care if people didn’t like me because there was a game of football to win – but not everyone can switch like that.”
Hessenthaler was grateful that the game was completed, as the heavy rain made conditions tough on an already poor Crabble playing surface.
“Knowing our luck this season, we thought with 20 minutes to go it would end up being abandoned, said Hessenthaler.
“It was going through my head if the game was going to be abandoned or not so credit to the referee, and both sets of players to be fair, to finish the game.”
Dover produced a polished first-half display, buoyed by an early save from on-loan keeper Ollie Webber to deny former Whites striker Alfie Pavey.
It was a result – and performance – that had been coming for Hessenthaler, despite Whites’ poor run of form.
“I was pleased with Saturday, I thought we had a right go at Solihull and the stats showed that,” said the Dover boss.
“I told the players that we have to keep producing that and we’ll start winning football matches.
“We thoroughly deserved to win the game, they could have scored early on but Ollie made a great save but we also had a chance straight away that we didn’t take. That first goal settled us down and we went on from there.
“I heard Tim Flowers (at half-time) – I did our team talk and went down to my office and could hear him as I walked past.
"I expected that, we knew there’d be a reaction and we changed our shape to counter that. We knew we could see the game out and our game management was excellent.
“We could have got more goals at the end when we hit the post and Ahkeem Rose had another chance. I felt it was coming and we’ve got to back it up now.
“Going through our minds in those conditions, it only needed a mistake or a bad clearance and at 3-2 we would have been pinned back and might have lost a bit of confidence.
“They had nothing to lose so they had to do something and we changed to match them so credit to our boys for standing up to it.”