What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday Garry Hill ordered his players to report for duty the next day and this week the Fleet boss felt for them as they were denied a first home win.
“We’ve worked the goalkeeper and we’re still going for the winner at the end,” Hill told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “I’m hurting a little bit for the players tonight because I felt we’d done enough to win the game. It was a fair result against Dover and I think today we could have quite easily have taken four points from six over the last two games.
“I thought the first half was probably the best 45 minutes we played in the league this season. We were strong, competitive, we deserved the lead, possibly even 2-0, and they never offered too much in respect of causing us problems.”
The Fleet boss felt his side were largely comfortable for most of the match, aside from the period after the equaliser.
“They had a strong wind in the first half but we kept our shape, we contained them and Jordan didn’t have too much to do. His kicking is a big factor for us, especially allowing us to get up the pitch.
“The warning signs were there before we got the goal and it was nice to see an Ebbsfleet player coming in and getting on the end of it instead of an opposing player at the far post. We were positive and upbeat. You’re relaxed on the touchline with how the game’s going. I wasn’t looking to change anything, it was just a case of taking our chances which we never did and they’ve struck a good strike.”
Not taking the chances was Hill’s only complaint as he thought his side created enough of them to have put the game to bed.
“When you are on top or do get opportunities, you’ve got to try and kill the game off,” he said. “We had two or three very good opportunities. We got round the back to Alex Reid… on another day that goes for you but he’s worked the goalkeeper.
“Then another great move, Ball’s on the six-yard box but it’s not quite gone our way. We were dictating the game and containing play in their half. I think they were waiting for [a second goal] to happen.”
The referee’s decision not to award Myles Weston a penalty was the pivot on which the game turned but Hill didn’t want to analyse that beyond a passing comment.
“From where I was, Myles Weston has gone down. I don’t know if it’s originally outside the box but I thought it was in. I was quite puzzled how he’d got the other side of the player and decided to – as the referee says – ‘dive’. There was a lot of frustration at that time from the supporters as well as the players.
“A vast majority of the fans could see from their side. I’m looking at it from a further distance but I thought he was in the box and all of a sudden he’s gone down but the referee certainly felt different. But we’re not going to change that, let’s not harp on about it and I’ll take the positives out of the game.”
The Eastleigh equaliser came as a surprise to the Fleet camp and Hill felt it rocked his side back on their heels for a quarter-hour spell.
“Out of the blue, from deep Tyrone Barnett’s arced his run, got the other side of Kingy and hit it early and struck it very well.
“All credit to Eastleigh, they gained in confidence for 10 or 15 minutes. We’d taken a blow we didn’t see coming and we came through that spell and with fresh legs up top, we tried to exploit them again.”
But with just one defeat in five games now, Hill is seeing more signs from his squad that things are turning.
“People can say it’s still only one win in nine but I look at it as four results out of the last five games. It’s not easy when you’re battling against strong teams, you’re low on confidence but I’ve seen the response and reaction that was needed from last Saturday to Dover and today, where we’re a little bit frustrated. Over the 90 minutes, we could say it was two points dropped.
“I think people who witnessed the game would have walked out pleased having seen a performance and response. In any game in this league, you’ve got to have commitment from every player. I think we’ll get a bit more settled in the squad and if we play consistently, with the type of performances we’ve had at Dover and here today, we’ll certainly pick up more points.”