Garry Hill didn’t mince words as he watched Fleet fall to a disappointing defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge, the visitors confirming their survival in the National League in the process.
“We’ve not done ourselves justice today by our standards,” Hill told BBC Radio Kent’s Matt Cole. “If you looked at a team out on the park today who were chasing the play-offs and who was sitting in the bottom six, it looked like Dagenham were the team chasing the play-offs the way they came here, very professional. They’ve done their job properly and we looked like a team who was struggling and low on confidence.
“It was very poor. I’m very disappointed to say that, I haven’t had to say that since I’ve been at the football club. We’ve done ourselves no favours and that happens in football. We weren’t good enough today, we’ve not worked their goalkeeper and Nathan Ashmore had three or four good saves. We were still in the game at 1-0 and we were trying to get the ball forward in the second half, we were trying different formations, but we just didn’t have that drive about us today which is strange.”
Hill had warned before the match that setbacks were more difficult to correct at this stage of the season but that’s what Fleet will have to achieve very quickly with just three games left – and Hill says they must be positive despite today’s defeat.
“I don’t know whether the stakes get a little bit high this time of the season,” he said, “but I felt Dagenham started a lot better than us and we never really got going. They deservedly were 1-0 up at half-time and could’ve been two or three up.
“You get to a stage of the season where you are so close to the play-offs. The stakes become greater and if you have a setback it makes it harder to recover. But I don’t want to turn around and seem like everything’s doom and gloom. We have to still try and be positive collectively as a group but the desire was a lot greater to win the game today from Dagenham & Redbridge than ourselves. And over the 90 minutes I had no complaints.”
“We were chasing [the play-offs] anyway and it’s been a blow to us today but there’s nine points on offer for us now. We’ve got to try to get them and we can only hope to see where it takes us.”
The winning goal was one Hill wasn’t happy with, being a largely self-inflicted one.
“It was a very, very poor goal from a defensive point of view which is disappointing, basically a mix-up from our two defenders and the lad still had plenty of time from near enough the halfway line to make his way to our penalty area, then slot the ball into the back of the net with ease.
“We rallied round better second half, we had to make some changes. I’ll be honest, Michael Cheek came off for Danny Kedwell and five or six players could have come off and I don’t like saying that.
“We were very strong on the bench today with players and with experience. You try and pick a team to win games and the players who were selected, I have no regrets. You show a certain amount of loyalty with the players who have been playing over a period of time and momentum’s with you. But as a group today we were way short of the standards that we set and [that’s] frustrating.”
The Fleet boss refused to make excuses or blame off-field pressures for the defeat and says he and the players must focus on the only thing they can possibly do at this stage and that’s win the last three games.
“I do understand that things have been awkward off the field,” he said. “I respect that and the boys have been superb. But we haven’t been good enough today; over the 90 minutes we got beat fair and square.
“You have to be honest or else you’ll end up kidding yourself looking for excuses… it’s this problem or it’s that problem, that’s why this has happened. The only person you kid is yourself. That’s not my style, never has been my style, never will be.
“Straight after the game, I always come out here and I have no problem with that. By the same token it’s very easy to make a rash statement and say this and that’s happening next week.
“We get in on Monday morning and we try and prepare for two big Easter games. You can have a situation next Friday or next Monday with the other two teams above you. You go down to Havant and get a good result or beat Dover here as well and get maximum points, they can turn round and lose a game.”
Listen to the interview below.