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Herne Bay manager Steve Lovell reminds players of off-the-ball duties at half-time of 4-3 Isthmian South East home success over Horndean

Boss Steve Lovell had to remind Herne Bay’s players of their off-the-ball duties at half-time during their 4-3 weekend win over Horndean.

Seventh-placed Bay returned to Isthmian South East action for the first time in a fortnight as they remained on the fringes of the play-offs.

Herne Bay frontman Kane Rowland – was among the scorers in their 4-3 weekend win against Horndean. Picture: Marc Richards
Herne Bay frontman Kane Rowland – was among the scorers in their 4-3 weekend win against Horndean. Picture: Marc Richards

First-half goals from striker Michael Salako and winger Theo Osinfolarin put the hosts in command at Winch’s Field - only for the away side to score twice in quick succession just before the interval.

But after Lovell’s half-time team-talk, frontman Kane Rowland’s effort and another goal for Salako put them back in control and, although Horndean netted again, Herne Bay held on.

Lovell reflected: “We were excellent, first half, went 2-0 up and it’s probably the best we have played all year.

“We were cruising - and then they got a goal out of nothing in added time. Then, they went up the other end and got another one.

“I was very disappointed at half-time. We went in at 2-2 and it was like we were 5-0 down!

Herne Bay's Harrison Pont, right – came off against Horndean but boss Steve Lovell is hopeful he will return for the game at Ramsgate. Picture: Randolph File
Herne Bay's Harrison Pont, right – came off against Horndean but boss Steve Lovell is hopeful he will return for the game at Ramsgate. Picture: Randolph File

“But a little team-talk and - it wasn’t so much a rollicking - but we went through what they need to understand if we’re going to progress this year.

“When we’re on the ball, we’re excellent. But out of the ball, we need to defend better - not individually - but as a group.

“We got another two goals in the second half and could have got some more. I was very pleased with the players’ response.”

Salako’s double moved him to 13 goals for the season - ending a mini-drought, having not netted since November 11.

“When you go a few games without scoring, you want to get back to scoring as soon as you can,” said Lovell, himself a popular forward in his playing days. “I know what it’s like as a striker.

“Him and Kane did very well between them on Saturday. They worked hard and Mike is a poacher. Kane’s was an excellent goal, as well.

“It’s nice when your forwards are scoring because it takes the pressure off everybody else.”

The 429 fans at Herne Bay certainly got their money’s worth.

Lovell suggested: “I think that’s why our crowds are so good.

“You want to be watching entertaining games as a supporter although, as a manager, you want it to be not so entertaining from a goals-against perspective.

“But we give the boys the licence to play.”

Bay visit leaders Ramsgate - who reached the Second Round of the FA Cup - on Boxing Day.

It’s bound to be a massive test for Lovell’s charges of their promotion credentials but, after a 2-1 home loss against them in August, the manager thinks they’re capable of giving Ben Smith’s Rams a stern examination.

Lovell said: “They’re a very good team and have a very good squad. They had a good result on Sunday and scored another five (winning 5-0 at Erith & Belvedere). We know what to expect.

“There will be two or three teams contesting for that top spot. Three Bridges are surprising everybody but also there’s Ramsgate and Cray Valley, who have a lot of games to catch up on.

“Then, everyone else is battling it out for the play-offs.

“I really do think Ramsgate and Cray Valley are very good sides. They have good squads and probably a bit of licence to add to that because of their cup runs.

“All we can do is keep picking up points.”

It will be a first time in the away dugout at Southwood since Lovell was surprisingly sacked earlier this year.

But Lovell, targeting two wins from their three festive fixtures - with a trip to Burgess Hill on December 30 and a home derby against Ashford on New Year’s Day also to come - said: “It doesn’t matter to me too much. It’s another game.

“It’s nice that it’s on Boxing Day.

“There will be a great crowd and expectations from both sets of supporters.”

It’s been confirmed home and away supporters will be able to buy tickets on the gate after a safety meeting.

Tom Hanfrey is still struggling with an injury while fellow defender Harrison Pont came off against Horndean with a groin strain but he’s expected to be fit to play Ramsgate.

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