Kevin Watson admitted that while he’ll always take away points if Fleet follow up with wins at home, the manner of the draw at Dagenham this afternoon was unacceptable.
“I’d have taken a point to win your two home games,” Watson told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “It’s just the manner we’ve thrown it away – and it is thrown it away – is gutting.
“It is two points dropped. We’ve just had our own inquisition in there as to what’s gone on today. I didn’t think we played particularly well at all. We get our noses in front, managing it OK and they go down to 10 men and it was very much like what we were like against Hartlepool when they went down to 10 against us.
“I will hold my hand up if a team carves us to ribbons and scores two or three and batters us, like Barnet did. But when it’s of our own doing… At Stockport we got deeper and deeper trying to hang on to a win, two penalties at Eastleigh there’s another two points. Would you have taken a draw here before the game and then won your two home games? Yes. But in the circumstances and the manner that we’ve drawn today, it’s not right.”
The manager certainly felt his players didn’t take advantage of their numerical superiority in the closing stages, with Dagenham perhaps sensing doubt in the Fleet ranks as time ticked down.
“The game changes, we feel that we’ve done enough as a team, the boys that are out there,” Watson said. “We stop doing the right things, stop playing in the right way that was getting us a bit of success. Once you get in front and they’re down to 10 men, then you expect to manage the game much better than we did.”
“We could have played any formation on this earth but when you keep giving the ball away under no pressure, you’re constantly making wrong decisions with the ball, then teams will sniff it and Dagenham sniffed it with 10 men.
“We’d done a job on them, it was a poor game of football. You’ve also got the human nature element with us probably thinking what a massive win this would be, giving us three points, trying to hang on to it when they went down to 10. What’s gone on in the dressing room stays in there, we’re all in this together but we need to be better than that.
“I stood there when they went down to 10, I wasn’t cheering that the game was done because I know it can turn in the team’s favour with 10 if you don’t manage the game correctly. And all of a sudden we started having too many touches, started doing things that were alien to us, trying to cross balls under no pressure when we could have just kept it and kept switching it and make them run.
“Even the goal, a hurried clearance hits Frankie in the chest, there’s no need, it’s a slashed clearance and Frankie can’t get out the way, all of a sudden they’re breaking down the middle of the pitch. But I’ll be completely honest, once they got the equaliser, I was looking at the clock and just hoping for it to tick round because in the end we got away with it. I’ll always be completely honest and we’ve got away with it getting a point.
“We’ve had words. It’s good because it shows they care, it shows I care. I probably shouted more than I normally would in there today, I wasn’t pleased at all. The players, myself, you’ve just got to say how it is sometimes.”
There was good news for the Fleet in the form of John Goddard who came through 25 minutes unscathed and Watson explained his thinking behind the switch that saw goalscorer Alex Reid hooked.
“I always explain my decisions,” the boss said. “My thoughts behind taking Reidy off was because I felt the ball was getting into their front men too easily, there was no protection there because of Frankie Sutherland and Josh Payne being matched up and trying to press the ball. Those two could have played a little bit deeper and sat on the toes of their front men who hold the ball up well.
“So that’s why I got another body in there in Johnny Goddard, left Gozie up by himself and had Tomi and Westy to hit them on the counterattack once we’d got our goal. To be fair, while they were still at 11 it was fine, they hadn’t really threatened us and then the game completely turned in their favour when they went down to 10 men. It’s something I need to have a look at as to why. These draws need to turn into wins sooner rather than later. They have to.
“Perhaps I didn’t want to get John Goddard on the pitch as early as that but I just needed another body in the middle and he showed some great touches, a couple of little good through balls, so delighted to have him back in the fold.
“Lawrie Wilson defended well and in general we defended well. They threw crosses into that box, they had a chance early that Jordan saved but apart from that, I don’t remember more than a couple of half chances. You expect to come to Dagenham and be under the hammer a little bit more.”