*BS*Dover boss Chris Kinnear praised his side’s mental strength and penalty taking under pressure in their play-off semi final victory against Eastleigh.*BF*
Kinnear gave his post match verdict following Dover’s dramatic 4-2 penalty shoot-out win, which came after Eastleigh’s Glen Southam and Damian Scannell had leveled the tie to 3-3 on aggregate.
Chris said: “The lads were mentally strong and were all as one.
“I did fear the worst for the lads at one point but they were magnificient. These players do not want to lose games!”
With his team 2-0 down and facing the prospect of another 30 minutes against an away team full of confidence, Whites’ manager had a chance to talk to his deflated players: “I told them I trusted them and that we could win this game, we did not even discuss penalties.”
Despite the weary legs, Dover’s players valiantly battled through extra time, without conceding to take the tie to penalties, with Mitchell Walker gaining permanent cult status amongst fans by saving Eastleigh’s final two spot kicks and causing delirium amongst the home support.
Chris said of his goalkeeper: “He’s been superb for us. We know he’s great at saving penalties and I just hoped we would score all ours. They were great penalties weren’t they?”
Kinnear also complimented the opposition, with the Hampshire side coming very close to completing a remarkable comeback: “They are a big strong side with full time players and have lots of experience. They were great today and had nothing to lose.”
Athletic are now 90 minutes away from a return to the Conference Premier division and will travel to Salisbury next Sunday, with Kinnear aiming to wave his magic wand one last time this season: “It’s not about me, it’s about the team and our supporters. The 1600 here today were brilliant.”