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Nicky Southall says Dover Athletic need 16 or 17 wins to survive in the National League

Assistant manager Nicky Southall saw enough from Dover’s players during their defeat at Altrincham to prove they are up for their survival challenge.

Southall says the club’s management team have set a target of a minimum of 16 victories this season in their bid to avoid relegation.

Dover Athletic assistant boss Nicky Southall with manager Andy Hessenthaler. Picture: Alan Langley
Dover Athletic assistant boss Nicky Southall with manager Andy Hessenthaler. Picture: Alan Langley

They have lost their first three National League fixtures after losing 3-2 on Saturday.

But Southall said: “I think, obviously, we just want to get that first win. You are looking at the league table and we are 13 points from survival with the bottom three going down.

“We have a figure in our mind of how many games we need to win - probably 16 games over a 44-game season - with a few draws, or an extra win in there, to stay up.

“We are not really looking at the points table, we are just looking for 16 or 17 wins. If we can get that, I think we will be okay.”

Whites were well in the game against Altrincham despite, ultimately, losing once again.

The Robins had to come from behind twice after Koby Arthur and then Aaron Cosgrave put Dover in front, before A-Jay Leitch-Smith netted a second leveller for Alty and Ryan Colclough’s penalty secured Altrincham the points.

Whites were without defenders Will Moses (knee), Jake Goodman (concussion) and player-coach Reda Johnson (calf).

Southall admitted: “We are down to the bare bones. We knew it would be like this.

“We are under no illusions that it is going to be tough this season.

“But looking at the way the boys played on Saturday, it looks like they are right up for this challenge.”

Whites started their season on minus 12 points, with second-placed Chesterfield heading to Crabble this Saturday.

Southall, 49, says he is hoping to see more of the same from AFC Wimbledon loanee Cosgrave who he has compared to a former Dover favourite.

He said: “Aaron assisted one goal and scored the other at Altrincham.

“He is only young and has just come out of non-league from Lewes (where he played last season). There is more to come from him.

“He reminds me of a young Stefan Payne. Me and the gaffer had Stefan at Gillingham, and he went to Dover and did really well. Aaron is very similar to him in terms of physique, power and pace.”

Payne will return to Crabble this weekend, while ex-Gillingham winger Curtis Weston is another Chesterfield player familiar to Hessenthaler and Southall.

Southall, who hopes Goodman and Moses will be back fit to bolster Dover’s defence, said: “Chesterfield will be massive favourites and they are a massive club.

“But there are some real green shoots coming from our players.

“If we can just get that first win or first point on the board, I think you might see the team develop and blossom even more.”

Whites visit Eastleigh on Tuesday.

Read more: The latest sports news in Kent

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