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Dover Athletic aiming for the National League play-offs next season

By Steve Tervet

Andy Hessenthaler will meet chairman Jim Parmenter this week to plot Dover's assault on the National League play-offs next season.

Whites completed the Great Escape with a 3-2 win at Barrow on Saturday, six months after Hessenthaler was appointed manager.

Four points from safety when he took over, Dover can now look forward to a sixth consecutive season in non-league's top flight.

Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler Picture: Alan Langley
Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler Picture: Alan Langley

Hessenthaler said: "It's great to finish it with three games to go and we'll have a meeting with the chairman in the next few days.

"We know where we want to go with it but finances will dictate. We'll talk about the budget and look at what we need to do.

"We need to get a training ground in place. We've used Kings Hill and they've been fantastic for us but whether that'll be us next year, we don't know.

"For me, the training ground's a big part of what we need for next season to push forward and then we'll start talking about players coming in and players leaving and try to build a team to push for the play-offs next season."

Appointing Hessenthaler turned out to be a masterstroke by Parmenter following the sacking of Chris Kinnear.

"It's been a bit of a whirlwind," he admitted. "When we took over back in October, we had seven points from 15 games and the chairman wanted to go full-time.

"It wasn't just on the pitch we had to do a lot of stuff, we had to find a training ground, have the problem with players being part-time and changing it to full-time.

"The PFA were involved because you couldn't really change contracts so lots of stuff had to be sorted off the pitch and we got there in the end.

"We were able to add to the squad and it made us a lot stronger.

"I didn't think it was going to be as complicated as it was.

"The players were on full-time wages as far as I was concerned. I looked at what they were earning and they were doing two nights a week when they should have been training every day.

"The main focus was getting them on the training ground, getting them organised, getting them fitter and we've reaped the rewards of training every day. You can see it in the performances.

"Most teams in this league are full-time so that was the biggest issue and we had to find a way of playing and also assess the squad.

"I didn't know all the players. I had to watch a lot of videos of their previous games with the staff and we had to give them an opportunity first before we identified what we needed to bring into the football club.

"Once we'd done that, the results started to come along, we got onto a decent run and the confidence started coming back.

"When you're on a bad run like that, even good players lose confidence. You could see that in some of the players.

"My philosophy was different to the previous manager and this season hadn't worked out for him so they decided to make the change.

"Credit to the players because they had to buy into what myself and the staff were looking for, what we felt we needed to do to keep us in this division.

"I'm not one to bear a grudge on any player. I've had lots of arguments with managers but they knew what they were going to get from me.

"You gradually find out about players and you can see the boys have enjoyed training every day.

"A lot of the players were doing two nights and during the day, doing absolutely nothing. It was crying out for them to train on a regular basis, like most teams do at this level.

"They loved being out there and gradually results started to change for us."

Dover host relegated Aldershot on Good Friday before visiting Ebbsfleet on Easter Monday. Both games kick-off at 3pm.

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