Published: 06:00, 20 November 2020
The two teams with the worst defensive records in the National League go head to head on Saturday.
Dover Athletic’s 5-1 loss to Woking on Tuesday night took their goals against tally to 22 from eight league matches but weekend hosts King’s Lynn Town have conceded two more than that.
Manager Andy Hessenthaler picked out some players that failed to do their job against Woking and will be hoping for a much-needed boost against their Norfolk opponents.
Speaking after Tuesday’s loss, Hessenthaler said: “We are only eight games in and we are in a relegation battle but there is a long way to go.
“We changed the shape (on Tuesday) but it is not about the shape. We had a strong team out there. It is about defending set plays and crosses, it is not about shapes, it is about making sure your man doesn’t score and we didn’t do it.
“We have to get some confidence back and we are playing against a team who have conceded more than us, believe it or not. It is going to be an interesting game!
“They had a good result on Tuesday (beating Barnet 2-0) and a good result against Port Vale (beating the League 1 side in the FA Cup first round) but they then shipped five against Sutton (the following week).
“They will jump on our situation at the moment and we need to get confidence from somewhere. The only way to get confidence is to start winning football matches again and let’s make sure we go and do that on Saturday.”
With the team conceding an average of three goals a game, it’s proving a tough introduction to first team football for Arsenal’s 18-year-old loan keeper Tom Smith.
Hessenthaler said: “He made an error (on Tuesday) in terms of coming out and getting booked and they scored from it but can we help him out? He made a mistake but we need to defend better.”
Dover are still within touching distance of the mid-table teams and Hessenthaler is determined to get out of trouble quickly.
He said: “Our remit this season is to stay in the division, which is what the chairman said because of the problems highlighted, but I don’t want to just stay in the division, I want to make sure we have a good season.
“At the moment we are in a scrap and it is down to me and the players to get us out of it.”
Hessenthaler may look to bring in some extra players to help but finances are tight. Getting a team together in the summer was an achievement.
The manager said: “Is there money? I don’t think there is. We are in a Covid situation and there is not a lot of money around.
“We all know the budget has been cut, but we have got a budget we have to work to. We have players playing for nothing, the 18-year-old from Arsenal and the boy from Watford (Bayli Spencer-Adams), because the finances are tight, but we have to perform better. That group has to perform better but it is not just the players, we look at ourselves as well.
“We have 38 games left, it is a long way to go isn’t it? We have to keep fighting and we will.”