Dover Athletic manager Andy Hessenthaler reflects as controversial victory against Hartlepool United marred by alleged racist abuse

Dover Athletic manager Andy Hessenthaler felt Saturday’s 2-0 win at Hartlepool United was one of the biggest managerial tests he’s experienced.

Sunday, 22nd September 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd September 2019, 5:15 pm
Referee Joe Johnson speaks to both managers Craig Hignett (left) and Andy Hessenthaler (right) after an alleged racist incident by Hartlepool United fans during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Dover Athletic at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 21st September 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Goals from Inih Effiong and Steve Rigg saw the Whites to a comfortable away win but that doesn’t even begin to tell the full story of how events unfolded at Victoria Park.

The game saw Dover players subject to alleged racist abuse which threatened to abandon the match following Effiong’s first half penalty.

Pools then had Ryan Donaldson, Nicky Featherstone and manager Craig Hignett shown straight red cards for dissent after a string of remarkable refereeing decisions against the home side.

With Hignett understandably refusing to comment on the game itself, opposing boss Hessenthaler gave his assessment of the game.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“It’s very difficult to manage on days like this when there’s so much going on,” he said.

“There was a lot of reaction from my players and from the Hartlepool players because what happened wasn’t right and it is a sad day from that point of view.

“Credit to the players, it’s hard as a manager and it was hard for Craig as well. He lost his way in the end but he’s passionate and wants to win football matches and in the end we got the result but it was a crazy day but one we’re happy with because we go home with the three points.

“To a man we worked our socks off, we’ve won five out of six away games now which is no mean feat.

“The reason why we won the game was down to the effort we put in. We rode our luck in the second half, they had a few scrambles and they hit the post but we deserved that.

“Effiong was an absolute handful for us today you can ask their lad [Michael] Raynes and the other two centre-halves.

“He gets unfair criticism from our fans but credit to him because what he did today was phenomenal.

“But yeah, it was a crazy game. I’ve never seen scenes like it in my career and I’ve been in the game a long time.”