Steve Lovell’s instinct paid off in Herne Bay’s spectacular comeback against Isthmian South East leaders Three Bridges.
Michael Salako scored an 18-minute hat-trick as Bay battled back from 3-0 down to take a point at Winch’s Field on Saturday.
Boss Lovell might have been expected to make changes to try and get his side back in the game with half an hour remaining, but he’d seen enough in the performance to keep things exactly as they were - a decision that paid off in style.
“It was a funny old game actually because we started brightly and created some really good opportunities, but we were 1-0 down at half-time,” said Lovell.
“We came out in the second half and again started well but they got the second goal out of nothing and then a third from a punt upfield.
“Me and Mark (Lovell, assistant boss) were standing there saying, ‘How the hell are we 3-0 down in this game?’. We talked about making changes but I said to him, ‘Mark there’s no need to change anything’.
“Although we were 3-0 down, we were on top, we were the better side. Sometimes you can change things with the score like that and it can go wrong and you end up losing by four or five.
“We decided to keep going for another 10 minutes and see what we can do and the boys were brilliant. We got the first, the second and the third and we might even have won it but their keeper made two great saves.
“It was good to get something out of the game. We’ve put a good group of lads together and they deserved something.
“Three Bridges (who’ve since dropped to second) are a good side, with three lads up front who caused problems, but we did the same to them.”
Salako’s treble took his tally for the season to 11 and he’s proved to be an outstanding signing for Herne Bay.
“Mike’s a great lad,” said Lovell. “He’d be the first to admit he’s not the most technical of centre-forwards but he’s a goalscorer.
“He’s always there or thereabouts and his three goals were excellent. The first one, you can’t teach because Danny Walder’s had a great shot that the keeper parried and there he is running in for the rebound.
“That’s a goalscorer’s instinct, he’s there ready for the ball to be spilled.
“The other two goals were fantastic headers from great Tom Hanfrey crosses and that’s how we nearly won it as well.
“We told Mike he’d have to wait for his chance after he joined us. He did that and since he’s been in the side he hasn’t stopped scoring. He’s done a great job for us.”
Herne Bay, outside the play-offs on goal difference, host struggling Littlehampton this Saturday (3pm).