RICKY Miller’s fourth hat-trick of the season ensured there was no happy return to Eastleigh for Richard Hill at Crabble on Saturday.
Caretaker boss Hill, who was in charge of his first game since Martin Allen’s sacking last Wednesday, could only watch as Dover condemned the Hampshire side to fourth consecutive National League defeat.
Miller struck in either half to take his league tally to 30 and 35 overall as boss Chris Kinnear’s side completed the double over the Spitfires to remain fifth ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Woking.
Home fans didn’t have to wait long to celebrate a goal – Miller opened the scoring after just three minutes.
Eastleigh goalkeeper Ryan Clarke parried Nicky Deverdics’ shot and predator Miller finished it off from close range.
Hill, who was in charge at Eastleigh between 2012 and 2015 and guided them to promotion into the National League before resigning, saw his side respond with former Dover loanee, central defender, Ayo Obileye, heading well over Steve Arnold’s bar.
Ross Stearn blazed over after being released by James Constable before Craig McAllister’s dangerous cross just failed to find an onrushing Tyler Garrett as Eastleigh looked for a quick reply.
Miller headed a Deverdics free-kick wide after the striker had been bundled over just outside the box.
But it was the visitors, who are are still searching for their first win of 2017, who came closest to scoring with almost the last kick of the first half.
Constable’s smart turn and half volley whistled just past the frame of Arnold’s goal.
Dover boss Kinnear was forced into making a change at half-time with Ricky Modeste struggling with a knee problem and he was replaced by James Hurst.
Miller start the second half as he finished the first, seeing an effort go wide before team-mate Ross Lafayette, playing against his former club, and wearing a bandage to protect a cut forehead from a first half collision, saw an effort deflected away.
Lafayette then saw a couple of efforts saved by Clarke before both he and the goalkeeper played their part in Dover doubling their advantage in the 71st minute.
Miller found himself on the end of Lafayette’s clever chest down and Clarke let Miller’s half-volley slip through his grasp and roll into the net.
Eight minutes later, Miller completed his treble after robbing defender Adam Dugdale, who pulled up with a groin injury in the process, before curling past Clarke.
Earlier, Kinnear made one change with Eastleigh loanee Connor Essam not able to play against his parent club.
That saw Bondz N’Gala make his debut for Dover against his former club and he gave an impressive first performance in the heart of the defence.
Dover: Arnold, Magri, Thomas (Sterling 86min), N’Gala, Grimes, Orlu, Modeste (Hurst 46mins), Healy, Deverdics, Miller (Emmanuel 82min), Lafayette
Subs not used: Pinnock, Parkinson.
Eastleigh: Clarke, Green, Dugdale (Odoffin 82min), Obileye, Stearn (Leonard-McLeod 76min), Togwell, McCallister, Hoyte, Garratt, Strevens, Constable (Wilson 76min)
Subs not used: Close, Stack.
|25th February 2017||3:00 pm||National League||2016-2017||90'|
|Crabble Athletic Ground|