DORCHESTER TOWN 0 CHESHAM UNITED 0
AFTER a turbulent week at the Avenue, both on and off the pitch, Magpies’ caretaker-boss Stuart Heath was looking for his players to show the fans their commitment to the cause.
And even though they lacked the quality to break down a stubborn Chesham side, Heath felt the squad put some pride back in the Dorchester shirt.
“It wasn’t really about me,” said Heath. “It was about the players producing a really good performance on the pitch, which they haven’t done in the last three games, and showing the supporters that while there has been negativity they really care about playing for the club, and I thought they showed that.
“I don’t think they’ve always done that and that’s probably the main reason why we haven’t got results.
“I hope the players have gone some way to showing the supporters that while we’re not playing overly well in terms of our quality at the very least they showed the supporters they care about playing for this club.
“I make no apology of coming back to the supporters because they’ve been through a time for over a year now and they keep supporting the club.
“They keep coming back in good numbers even when the club is losing games, and when that happens you’ve got a debt to pay to them.”
He continued: “I thought the players were excellent, they put their bodies on the line and when I looked in their eyes straight after the game in the dressing room it looked to me like they’d been in a football game.
“In previous weeks, hand on heart, I couldn’t say that was true. For me, that’s the bare minimum of being at a club like Dorchester, you’ve got to put your body on the line and work as hard as you possibly can.
“The supporters will sometimes forgive a lack of quality and technical ability if they can see that the players put the absolute maximum in to the black and white shirt they put on every week.”
Commenting on the last seven days and the future, he added: “I think that was a watershed for us on Monday (against Weymouth).
“I hope it was for everyone at the club, not just players but the supporters, the management and coaching staff, and the board because we rolled over too easily.
“It has got to be a collective mentality to turn it around. It won’t be easy because you can’t just turn these things around overnight. It’s got to be a long-term vision and it’s got to take everyone going in the same direction, and we’ve got to do that from now.”
Kyle Critchell made a welcome return to the Dorchester side on Saturday following his midweek move back to the Avenue from Weymouth, while Ben Joyce returned to the starting line up after injury.
Will Agbo dropped to the bench and Nick Crittenden (hamstring) was unavailable.
The first half was not one that will live long in the memory as a lack of quality throughout made for a drab affair.
Visiting stopper Shane Gore misjudged a long throw by Dan Cann but was fortunate to see Nathan Walker’s header go over the bar.
Midway through the half there was more disappointment for Joyce as he was forced off by a recurrence of his hamstring problem – Alex Godfrey replaced the Dorchester striker who looks like being out for three to four weeks.
Sam Lanahan then got his head to a Dan Smith cross but could only direct his effort well wide before the latter strode forward and drove a shot that went past the Chesham post.
It took 16 minutes for either keeper to be tested in the second half, with Magpies’ keeper Alan Walker-Harris parrying a pile-driver from David Pearce to safety.
There followed a decent spell for the hosts. Found by Godfrey, Smith fired wide and then Jamie Gleeson threw himself at the ball but his header missed the target.
Chesham threatened to break the deadlock when a Pearce cross deflected off Nathan Walker for a corner and Walker-Harris had to save from United skipper Darren Purse.
Gore needed to be alert to prevent a Dorchester goal 10 minutes from time. Steve Walker directed a Smith free-kick back across the six-yard box and Nathan Walker’s header was saved on the line.
Both sides created half chances before the end, Simon Thomas and Ryan Towner for Chesham and Smith for Dorchester, but it ended 0-0.
Magpies: Walker-Harris 6, Critchell 6 (Hanger 69, 5), Buckley 6, Smeeton 4, S Walker 5, N Walker 7, Gleeson 6, Lanahan 6 (Brookes 87, 4), Cann 5, Joyce 4 (Godfrey 23, 6), D Smith 6. Subs not used: Agbo, Brookes, Murphy.
Chesham: Gore, Fletcher (Hamilton 64), Lynn, Brown, Purse, Ballard (Bell 59), Towner, A Smith, Pearce, Thomas, Laville (Nwokeji 74). Subs not used: Cooper, Prosper.
Bookings: Magpies – None Chesham – Ballard (foul, 9), Brown (foul, 45+3) Referee: Adam Penwell (Weston-super-Mare) Attendance: 387