Athletic’s return to non league’s elite did not quite go according to plan as Halifax Town ran out 1-0 winners. Scott Mcmanus’ crisp strike just after half time made the difference in what was a tight affair, but Chris Kinnear saw plenty to encourage him ahead of the next 45 games. ‘I thought we played well. We had chances against a team that got into the play off semi final last year. We caused them problems and I am very pleased, though disappointed as we should have gotten something from the game. I know that we can easily compete at this level now and we just have to move on.’

He also added, ‘perhaps we were patting our backs a bit to early at half time as we switched off for ten minutes. We thought the game was there to be won and if it had been 0-0 with twenty minutes to go, then we could have brought the subs on and gone on to win the game – That was the plan. But it was easy for them to leave one up top and let us try and break them down. But that is their strength which is fair enough and something we should learn. You saw how big their defenders were today and they bombed in the corners and throw ins – That was the longest throw on I have ever come across!’

Ten of last season’s promotion winning squad started the game, much to the surprise of some after Kinnear had added six new additions to the squad over the summer. ‘There was a bit of loyalty involved’ admitted Chris, ‘but also as well we thought those lads are used to the big competitive games and as you saw, they did really well. Plus Lock (Injured) and Payne(Suspended) were unavailable.’ *Q1*

A strong crowd of 1321 witnessed the game and Kinnear was delighted with the positive vibes created by the crowd, in spite of the loss. ‘I said to the lads at the end that the fans appreciated how well they did against a side that are massive in the league as they were last year. As long as the lads give everything, then they will appreciated it. I think everybody here appreciated how well we had done and we have come a long way. It should be a good season.’

Whites face a tough August fixture wise, with games against Braintree, Grimsby, Woking, Eastleigh and Kidderminster coming up. Kinnear though is relishing the challenge. ‘We will find out what the teams are like at the top and we can hopefully go on from strength to strength and that is what we are planning to do.’

Dover’s next chance to put some points on the board is away at Braintree on Tuesday night. ‘Braintree were 6th last season and Alan Devonshire has a lot of experience and they have done quite well, but why shouldn’t we try and win?. I saw them in pre season, but they have changed their side a bit since then.’ *Q2*