Dover & Out

FA TROPHY 3rd QUALIFYING ROUND REPLAY

ATTENDANCE : 314



SUTTON UNITED – 1  [Henry 57]

DOVER ATHLETIC – 0

So, has anyone checked yet? Does two consecutive draws away from home amount to a run of ‘form’?? In fact, who gives a toss. When you’ve lost 9 straight previously, it bloody well does in our eyes.

Having held a side looking to run away with their division away from home with a hastily assembled side and and half the defence from our suburban league team, it’s understandable that some small threads of confidence have started to creep back into the minds of the jaded Sutton faithful.

Still, s’pose a first home win of the season wouldn’t be too much to ask eh lads?

The usual dash from Egham is as per normal delayed thanks to the delights of SWT and instead of being at the club comfortably in time to set up Roses and be in the bar for a couple of pints, I only manage a swift one before kick off, along with a quick chat with our station directions saviour from Saturday, Phil.

The main news is regarding Bromley’s second 7-day approach for left back Craig Tanner this season. Some are saying he’s gone, others that he’s mulling it over and others that he’s told them to get stuffed.  Well, I can state catagorically that it ain’t the first option as I’ve just walked past him warming up outside. Unless that is Bromley have kindly loaned him straight back. Which I doubt.

Still, Tanner’s presence tonight allows Ernie to name an unchanged side for the first time in his short spell in charge. And to be fair, you really can’t argue. The lads at the back had a particularly good game and the midfield looked pretty strong.  Here’s hoping there’s a repeat of that tonight.

Tonights game, like saturday, opens cautiously, with neither side looking like they want to make the first move. Because of this, the first half is pretty sparse notes wise. So this bit shouldn’t take too long! The early entertainment is provided by Dover’s rent-a-fans for the night who’ve popped over from Kingston. Which is a bit sad I must admit. Still, if you’d been watching K’s over the last few years, I guess you’ll happily watch any old shit you can find.

It takes until the 11th minute for anything vaguely interesting to happen and it’s the visitors who provide it. An attack breaks down on the left and with Tanner up in support, there’s a gaping hole left behind him that Dover are quick to exploit. The break down that flank results in a low ball across the box, but Haverson and Wilson combine to snuff out the danger and the young centre-back clears his lines.

Our first moment is several minutes behind. A bit of pressure leads to a throw on the right. It’s taken short to Henry down by the byeline and a clever little turn allows him to get away from his man and cut the ball back from the line towards the near post. Nick Greene darts in and his first time shot from 10 yards or so is touched out for a corner thanks to the excellent reaction save from the visitors ‘keeper.

Unfortunately from here, the match decends into a rather dour scrap. Neither side really gets on top, although Dover probably shade it thanks to some good possession and decent movement of the ball. We on the other hand look a little short of ideas and the ball fails to spend as much time in their final third as we’d like.

With half time upon us, Dover win a free-kick 20 or so yards out to the left. It’s played short and their man hits a thunderous shot through the crowd. Like on saturday, it thuds into a team mate on it’s way through, but this time doesn’t end up in the net. Instead it poleaxes him like he’s just taken a shot to the body from Ricky Hatton and the ball rebounds away to be cleared.

Ouch. Now that looked painful!

It’s the last vaguely interesting action of a pretty dull half and I soon set off to find my spot at the far end. Greek joins me on my stroll and takes the opportunity to review the marvellous little clip I’d taken on my phone of his embarrassing defeat to a Southern Trains toilet door on the train home on saturday.

He didn’t delete it, so I don’t think he minded too much.

On emerging for the second half, we start a little brighter and with a bit more life about us. 3 minutes in and some good play down the left allows Tanner to clip a ball into the danger area that Henry darts in for, but his hooked shot zips just over the bar. A couple of minutes later though, we really should be behind. Haversons poor touch is pounced on by a lurking attacker on halfway and he races clear with the ball. Wilson comes to meet him, but is rounded just inside the 18 yard box and with the goal gaping, the ball is rolled towards it’s target. Thankfully, Tanner has tracked back superbly and pops up about a yard out to slide in and divert the ball away for a corner.

Thank fuck for that! I hope you’re not trying to impress anyone Craig!

After such a surge of excitement, the game returns to it’s rather scrappy nature from the first half for a while and with almost an hour played, we’re already starting to wonder about extra time.

Then Jason Henry pops up and banishes such thoughts. A throw in from the right is helped on by a defenderJallow combination just inside the box. Alimi and a defender challenge for the bouncing ball with Bash just winning the contest. His touch drops to Henry behind him and about 8 yards out he spins first time to rifle a low shot under the ‘keeper and into the back of the net.

GET IN THERE!!!

Such is the excitement at this moment, I end up stacking it completely as I jump forwards with Windy and Chalmers and wind up flat on my back in front of the terrace. Still punching the air in triumph, albeit from a more horizontal position than I’d probably intended.

Meh. Who cares. We’re in front!

The goal fires us up and we set about looking for a second. The visitors meanwhile seem to lose their cool slightly and have three men carded for rash challenges inside a couple of minutes. With a goal finally under his belt, Henry is now running about like a hyperactive 4 year old ODing on E numbers and popping up all over the place making a complete nuisance of himself. It’s from such persistance that we almost claim a second goal.

Following a corner, Henry chases down on the right and wins possession. He then clips the ball over the top to Paul Honey who is still lurking having delivered the aforementioned corner. He controls, beats his man and with the ball sitting up nicely, has a go with a full blooded looping shot from the corner of the 18 yard box. It’s close, but not close enough, so Warren dives in full stretch at the far post to try and help it onto the target, but just guides his header over the bar.

Dover seem to recover from their little spell of madness and hit back straight away. A corner form the left is headed on goal from a central position and is somehow kept out on the line at the near post (I’m not sure how as there’s a large crowd of players obscuring my view!) but it looks to be a joint WilsonTanner effort. Another indication that we’re in for another nervy finish comes with 20 minutes to go. A throw on the left is eventually worked across field and played into the right hand channel. Wilson saves the initial shot, but only gathers at the second go with an attacker lurking very near.

Phil is in action again soon after, making a good save after a quick cross from deep on the left is headed down at the far post from 10 yards out. Our stopper getting down at full stretch to take the ball.

We endure a somewhat nervous last 15 minutes, although it’s not entirely unexpected! Dover press, but despite plenty of the ball, never really create a chance that looks likely to force an extra 30 minutes. At least not until the 89th minute, when a typically suicidal bit of defending almost gifts an equaliser.

In a panic, we fail to clear our lines and the ball is once more put back into the danger area. A Dover man lifts it into the heart of the box from the byeline on the left and the resulting header loops goalwards, only for Wilson to once more haul our arses out of the fire, arching his back to push the effort over the crossbar.

A huge amount of injury time sees fingers well and truly chewed to the bone before the ref finally blows up and we at last have a bloody home win. And even better, it can’t have impressed the rent-a-fan K’s mob. Shame!

Back in the bar, we are for the first time this season relax after a home game having actually got a win. Which makes a nice change from sobbing into your pint I must say!

Three games unbeaten as well. Now that most definitely IS form! And we’ve got Ernie’s old boys on saturday.

C’mon football gods, you know the score. The script is written already, just do your jobs….

MoM : Jason Henry. Whole hearted showing and finally got that goal his efforts deserved.

TEAM : Wilson, Sammut, Hughes, Haverson, Tanner, Alimi, Honey, Greene, Henry, McBean, Jallow SUBS : Hughes, Opara, Ottaway, Wright, Williams

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