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We stood bigger and stronger

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Garry Hill thought his under-fire side stood up to what in-form Dover threw at them in a derby match the manager enjoyed as his players responded to Saturday’s defeat.

“We never crumbled when they equalised tonight,” he told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “It meant we had  to stand bigger and stronger and we still had chances at the other end. So as much as they had the play and Jordan’s made a couple of great saves, it was pleasing to see bodies going on the line to stop shots going in the back of the net. I’m going home tonight pleased, they get tomorrow off and we get in Thursday and prepare.

“It was a proper game, I really enjoyed that. It was on the edge because we weren’t sitting back, we were pushed back but we were breaking with pace and getting our chances and we stood toe to toe. We looked very competitive tonight and that’s a big factor. It was a good derby, what a great derby and an advert for a game of football.”

Following Saturday’s defeat, the Fleet boss admitted his side were under pressure to perform and he thought they did just that.

“We came here under a lot of pressure,” Hill admitted. “We were all in Sunday for two and a half hours and we worked on it again Monday, worked on it on the pitch today before we came here. 

“You can feel it in the changing room at the end there. I haven’t seen players hugging each other like that and myself, it’s a big relief. It means a lot to these players, it means a lot to me and my staff.

“I haven’t had a good week, it affects me because I’m very passionate. I show it in different ways, I think I’m a fair man, I’m an honest man and I’m straight down the line but it affects me probably more than anybody. From Saturday it’s been tough in my house, living with me, but that’s how it is and probably has been for 38 years since I’ve been married.”

Tyler Cordner made his debut and Hill had a word of praise for the young defender whose capture the manager described as a major plus point.

“Tyler Cordner’s a young lad very highly rated at Bournemouth, a great coup for this club to get him till January. League clubs were looking to take him. I got a phone call at ten past four yesterday and all credit to Peter Danzey, he got him signed on at two minutes to five before the deadline. It’s a great signing for us.”

And Cordner’s former Bournemouth colleague, goalkeeper Jordan Holmes, also came in for some praise.

“Jordan might be a little bit disappointed with the goal in respect of coming when he come,” Hill conceded, “but two Gordon Banks world-class saves at the end. He’s a quality keeper, we’ve found there.”

Hill said there could also still be some movement in his evolving Fleet squad: “It might be a case of one or two more come in, one or two go out. That’s football. There can’t be sentiment in the game or feelings that suit individuals [but] they’ve responded tonight with something to build on.”

And of the evening’s game itself, Hill had this to say.

“That is what I expect in respect of commitment, competitiveness and players coming in that changing room at the end, shattered with cramp. That’s what you want. It was ideal to get the goal to start with, they had their breaks, they had the penalty which from where I was I didn’t think the referee had given it. The linesman didn’t signal but I’m pleased to say it went our way.

“They had a lot of ball, yes, but we kept our shape very well, we looked very dangerous on the counterattack with pace and strength. We changed the formation a little bit tonight, we matched up and I thought overall it was a fair result over 90 minutes. 

“I’m really pleased for the supporters. It’s always tough where you are in the league, we had injuries. We changed things about. That’s two draws and a win in the last four, three games out of four. If someone said to me over the next four games would you take three results, I’d take them.

“Saturday, we didn’t have enough leaders, or enough people shouting to get on the ball, enough tackles going in, we didn’t do enough and that’s why we were in on Sunday.”

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