Daryl McMahon named yet another unfamiliar back four this afternoon at Crabble as Sam Magri’s absence meant McCoy-Mambo-Bush-Graham took to the field as a unit for the first time.
And the performance they put in gave the Fleet boss plenty of heart. “Bush joined Friday and has played two games without any training sessions so he doesn’t know how we do things,” McMahon told BBC Radio Kent. “He hears it obviously in the changing room before a game but actually showing him on the training ground and videos, etc, we’ve not been able to do yet. Mambo probably hasn’t had two games in a row in I don’t know how long, let alone two in three days. Bagasan Graham has played three games this week, Marvin has come back in today. They’re all good players but against any team in this division, if you switch off you give them an opportunity to score a goal.”
It was that one lapse on 15 minutes that prevented Fleet gaining their second clean sheet in a row but that aside, McMahon thought his team dealt well wth Dover. “The first 15, 20 minutes, Dover got a lot of high balls in behind, throw-ins, they put you under a lot of pressure,” he said. “I thought we dealt with it well apart from once when they actually scored. Other than that, I thought we were the team to take control of the game. I thought we were impressive after that.”
Yado Mambo earned praise from his manager and is becoming an increasingly steady influence at the back. “I thought Mambo again was excellent,” McMahon enthused. “He’s a player that’s probably had a terrible two years in his career in the sense of the clubs he’s been at, not getting picked at Margate, Bishop’s Stortford. We brought him in as a character, he was here when I was here [playing] at Ebbsfleet and I believe in what he can do and I think he’s now finally believing in himself. He’s had them three or four games this season and his shoulders are going back, his chest is coming out and he’s influencing games now.”
Fleet looked more assured going forward in the second half and McMahon revealed his half-time team talk was all about calming his side down and getting them to play their style. “The ball doesn’t really settle down, Dover get in behind you quickly and man mark you as well so it’s difficult to buy some space,” he explained. “Sometimes you play against a team and Dover are very very good at what they do. They get it forward quickly, get up behind it. Because the game was so hectic, we started becoming hectic and we’re not a hectic team. I think we can get the ball down and we did then [in the second half]. It was just a little bit more belief and confidence, control it and pass it instead of doing what your opposite number’s doing.”
Fleet are now 30 games unbeaten in the league and heading into “Invincibles” territory but McMahon is not swayed by any of that talk and is still fixated on getting more wins on the board. “We still find a way to get points and to influence the game which is impressive with this group,” he said. “We’d like to win more and the unbeaten games doesn’t really mean a great deal to me. It’s brilliant that we’ve done it obviously, it’s great for the football club, it’s great for the fans – they know they’ve got a team that will fight to the death for them. But we want to start picking up some more wins.”
Dover boss Chris Kinnear’s reaction was one of slight disappointment after surrendering the lead. “Im a little but disappointed,” he said. “Up until they scored I think we were in control and then obviously their tails were up and throwing things forward. It was a big game, no nastiness in it, nobody tried to injure anybody so it was a good game to watch if you’re a supporter. For the neutral, I’m not so sure! It was competitive and at the end could have gone either way.
“When you’re 1-0 up you’re a little bit reluctant to push on a bit. We looked comfortable, we’re thinking if it’s got to be 1-0, it’s got to be 1-0. And then they scored, put their substitutes on and just threw caution to the wind. And then all of a sudden it switches round.”
Listen to the full interviews below.