Andy Hessenthaler was left to reflect on “the crazy world of football” after Dover’s narrow National League defeat to in-form Southend on Saturday.
Whites could count themselves somewhat unlucky to fall to defeat, with Southend’s ex-Dartford midfielder Noor Husin’s second-half strike earning the Shrimpers a hard-fought victory at Crabble.
Hessenthaler’s men almost responded soon after going behind, as Koby Arthur hit the post, but basement boys Dover couldn’t find a leveller as they fell to a 21st league defeat this season.
“That’s the crazy world of football to be honest,” said Whites boss Hessenthaler, whose team had claimed their first win of the season against Eastleigh on Tuesday.
“First half, I thought it was very similar to midweek, although they did have a good chance and Parkesy (Whites keeper Adam Parkes) made a great save from the corner where we had switched off.
“Then the lad (Matt Dennis) had a free header, which he should have done better with, and we had half a chance from a corner for Harry Ransom, didn’t we? But there wasn’t much in the game in the first half.
“Then second half, we spoke to Michael Gyasi - who started today - and we said to try and get up closer to Alfie Pavey and he was causing them problems, and we were in the game.
“We had a few chances. He (Gyasi) put one over the bar and, to be fair to the kid, it did bobble at the last minute before he put it over.
“They never really looked like scoring and I thought we looked quite comfortable, but there was one lapse of concentration from a set-play, and we got punished unfortunately.”
Husin’s goal was his first for the Shrimpers, coming after a Tom Clifford corner was not cleared by Dover as Southend’s unbeaten league run now stands at six matches, but Hessenthaler said he needed to look at his side’s defending again.
He admitted: “It was a good finish. But we have got to look at the video again and see who is not on the edge of the box because someone has made a mistake and we have been punished.
“Then we have hit the post and, if that goes in, for me, that would have been a fair reflection of the game - a point each would have been fair. So it’s disappointing because I think we did deserve something out of the game.
“There were some good performances out there but some boys who also, I thought, looked a bit tired which I expected after midweek’s game. But we have to go again now.”
The game was watched by a crowd of 2,657, swelled by nearly 2,000 Southend fans.
Hessenthaler commented: “Credit to our fans.
"It was a good atmosphere - obviously, credit to the wonderful fans they have got, as well, to get behind their team in the situation they’re in.
“They’re a long way from getting promoted (sitting 16th in the table) after coming down last year, but I’m sure they’ll be pushing next season.”
There were some promising signs from new signings midfielder Arjanit Krasniqi and forward Gyasi - both making their first starts for Dover - while full-back Myles Judd also put in an assured performance.
When asked how he had heard about Kosovo youth international Krasniqi, who signed on Friday, and whether these additions had been made with a view to relegation-threatened Dover playing in National League South next season, he replied: “Just through someone I knew really (is how Hessenthaler became aware Krasniqi was available).
“Obviously, I know a few agents in the game and he was playing at Braintree, and he felt he could play higher. So he wanted to test himself at this level.
“Juddy, I knew from my (Leyton) Orient days. I knew he had ability and didn’t have a club.
“Listen we have got them in, will see the season out and, for me, these players are capable of playing at that level.
"It’s an opportunity for them to showcase themselves, really.”
Next up for Dover is a trip to take on leaders Stockport.