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Herne Bay boss Steve Lovell concedes defensive lapses are costing them with club without a clean sheet since October ahead of their away game with Sevenoaks

Defensive lapses are costing Herne Bay, manager Steve Lovell concedes.

Bay collected a point from their three festive Isthmian South East matches and are in mid-table, having been on the fringes of the play-off places.

Herne Bay manager Steve Lovell. Picture: Randolph File
Herne Bay manager Steve Lovell. Picture: Randolph File

They started 2024 with a New Year’s Day 2-2 draw at home to Ashford but are without a clean sheet since October.

Lovell said: “We’re giving goals away - too many goals.

“But I suppose that’s just the way we play. We’re open, we like to go forwards, we score a lot of goals, although it’s not as if we are leaving ourselves one-against-one at the back or really going for it.

“People are just making mistakes.

“Players don’t mean to make mistakes - but they are. It seems that every mistake we are making is costing us a goal.

Theo Osinfolarin – netted last Saturday as Herne Bay lost at Burgess Hill. Picture: Ian Scammell
Theo Osinfolarin – netted last Saturday as Herne Bay lost at Burgess Hill. Picture: Ian Scammell

“Sometimes, you can get away with it. You make a mistake and they don’t score.

“They’re not making many mistakes - but the ones we are, we’re being punished for. It never seems to happen to us.

“If it happens in the other box, it falls to them and they clear it. Whereas for us, it falls to them and they stick it in the net.

“But, hopefully, it’ll even itself out.”

Bay’s squad - and their backline particularly - are fairly inexperienced, bar player-coach Liam Friend.

On what their defensive issues are, Lovell replied: “A little bit of naivety.

“There’s players wanting to play everywhere when, sometimes, you have got to clear your lines rather than play that pass into midfield.

“If it’s a straight pass and it gets cut out, they’re at us. It’s about decision making.

“The youngsters do sometimes make the wrong decisions to pass the ball into areas where they shouldn’t be passing it. Then, it gets cut out and the opposition are at you.

“But they will learn. We’re a young team.”

After the Boxing Day defeat at Ramsgate, Bay went down 2-1 at Burgess Hill on Saturday, despite winger Theo Osinfolarin’s effort, before their four-goal game at Winch’s Field against Ashford in front of a crowd of 534.

Lovell, who saw midfielder Jacob Gilbert miss a last-gasp chance to win it, reflected: “It was a good game, actually.

“I thought we played really well.

“We took the lead early on and had two or three opportunities to extend our advantage. But again, it’s the same old story.

“We play really well, going forwards - but then, we let ourselves down, giving teams goals. Again, we just gifted them two goals.

“If we can stop that, I think we will be fine because we created enough chances and could have won it at the end as well with the last kick. But the boys did well.

“I thought they, obviously, played a lot better than they did at Burgess Hill - under different circumstances and on a better surface.

“When we do get a good surface, we play some good football. I was pleased with them.

“I think they (Ashford) would have been happy to come away with a point.”

Bay’s top scorer Michael Salako and fellow frontman Kane Rowland were again on target, the latter making it 2-2 in the final 10 minutes.

The duo have 21 goals between them this term.

“I thought they did well again on New Year’s Day,” noted Lovell, without sidelined Gil Carvalho, Tom Hanfrey, Bola Dawodu and Dan Carrington. “They work hard.

“Kane scored with a header and Mike is always going to get goals in and around that six-yard box.

“They could have had a couple more, as well. They’re a good partnership.

“They’re working hard together and getting goals.”

Bay, in 11th, visit seventh-placed Sevenoaks – five points outside the top five and three points ahead of Lovell’s troops after playing a match more – this Saturday.

He said: “We have got another tough game so we have got to recover now, ready for Saturday.

“If we put another good performance in, we will get something.”

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