Words may have been uttered at half-time but there were no teacups flying according to Garry Hill, as he said his first objective after coming in 3-0 down was to calm the changing room.
“There was frustration at half time,” Hill told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “They are shell shocked, emotions are running high and you have to first of all calm the changing room down. It’s quite easy to pass [the blame] to one of your teammates. We all know that when you’re a team, whether that’s management or playing squad, that wrongs don’t make it right. But the changing room was right second half. Dave Winfield led them out there and they had to turn round and respond and they responded very well.”
Hill challenged his players to win the second-half and reminded them of the Chesterfield comeback at their own expense back in January.
“I’ve been in the game a long time. I understand the disappointment and shock from supporters. But it was no good feeling sorry for yourself at half-time. You have to stand up and be counted and you have to be in the game and you have to have a belief. We said this to the players at half-time. We experienced that at Chesterfield earlier this season – you get that early goal and the game turns.
“The players have shown they won’t roll over or give in and feel sorry for themselves. There were some words said, trying to pick people up, asking players to raise the bar and have that belief. You’ve been in the game long enough, you’ve got experienced players in the changing room, you’ve won certain things at higher levels. Take it to the wire, let’s win the second half and to be fair we’ve put everything in.”
The manager admitted the defending in the first-half wasn’t up to standard and it surprised him after Fleet had made most of the early chances.
“We started very bright,” said Hill. “We got on top early, Myles Weston had a very good shot kicked off the line by the centre-half, it was past the goalkeeper. Then after that he got the same from a flick-on by Danny Kedwell, the goalkeeper made a very good save. I was quite happy at that time.
“I was disappointed with the goal, it came down from a set play very, very easily. People given responsibilities haven’t taken them and we’ve found ourselves 1-0 down. It’s a case then really of looking to clear their heads and stay in the game.”
And Fleet should have stayed in the game when Lawrie Wilson did well to beat Mike Carter to the ball but he left it for Michael Cheek to finish, only for the resulting shot to somehow hit the bar.
“We had a very good chance,” said Hill. “Lawrie Wilson wriggled his way into the penalty area and Michael Cheek had a clear open goal which has happened several times in those areas which is frustrating. That was a big chance which we missed and it made us go a little bit flat. It seemed like it really drained the team – that’s no disrespect to Cheeky but they’ve got to go in the back of the net there.
“And of course we’ve got done by two cheap goals – the runner breaking from midfield on the second goal. We’re in the first half here – no disrespect to Havant & Waterlooville – against a team who have been relegated. It was very frustrating to see the third one go in.”
Fleet, of course, responded in 10 exhilarating minutes of attacking football after the break and Hill was in two minds after the comeback resulted in one point, rather than three.
“I don’t know how to analyse it really,” he said. “I have to try and take a positive out of the point more than anything. After being on the ropes in the first half and really counted out by probably everybody around the ground, if we were going to have a go second half, it had to go one way or the other.
“To be 3-0 down and think you’ve got nothing to all of a sudden you claw yourself back to get a result… we needed three points here today to be honest, we know that, and we’re hoping on results to go in our favour elsewhere. All credit to Leyton Orient and Dagenham, they’ve given us a bit of help and a bit of belief.
“We got that early goal which was a big break for us and before we brushed ourselves down we were back at 3-2. The momentum was with us, we were well on top. We were peppering them in a big way in their box and it was a case of a certain amount of time before the third goal went in. Andy Drury had a shot that hit the underside of the bar, I thought that was in from where I was.
“We’re disappointed with the defending in the first-half, let’s not move away from that fact. But to come back, whoever you play against in the National League, from 3-0 down on a very hot day at half-time and dig deep and get a result out of it, I’ve got to turn round and say [the players] have shown a great deal of character by winning the second half and getting a result.
“I wanted that [tempo and passion] to go on a lot more. I think Havant were getting away with a little bit, they were time-wasting and it was killing the game. I don’t think the ref really picked up on that. I thought the Andy Drury shot did look in but let’s be level-headed about it, would you take a point? I know where we are we need three points but anything out of today’s matches are a positive result.”
Listen to the interview below.