Whites’ were knocked in their attempts to extend their four point cushion from the relegation zone when they let a two-goal lead at Hartlepool United slip to lose 3-2 on Saturday.
With both sides pushing for a winner, Lee Molyneux grabbed an injury time clincher in windy and wet conditions at the Super Six Stadium.
The substitute curled Josh Hawkes lay-off into the bottom corner to end Dover’s 100% win record against their County Durham opponents.
Two controversial spot-kicks after the break from Hawkes had restored parity after Andy Hessenthaler’s men had been ahead at the break thanks to fine finishes from Alfie Pavey and Jai Reason.
Athletic fashioned there first chance early on, however Bedsente Gomis was unable to connect with Reason’s pinpoint cross to the backpost.
Pavey then collected Reason’s pass and went from goal, but his 20-yard curling effort flew just wide of home stopper Scott Loach’s far post.
But the striker made no mistake on 28 minutes with his second in as many matches.
Mitch Brundle’s lofted ball over the Pool defence was accurately volleyed first time into the bottom corner by Pavey as Dover looked to continue their 100% winning record against United.
Dover captain Brundle then saved his side at the other end, clearing Luke James’ bobbling shot off the line.
And the hosts were punished for their miss as the away side made it two on 39 minutes.
Reason scored his sixth goal of the season for Dover, latching onto Anthony Jeffrey’s ball 20-yards from goal and placing the ball perfectly into the bottom corner, out of reach from Loach’s despairing dive.
Hartlepool nearly hit back immediately through Nicke Kabamba’s fierce 20-yard strike, only for visiting stopper Lee Worgan to make a strong one-handed save to push away the Havant & Waterlooville loanee’s shot.
The rebound fell for Mark Kitching, but the leftback – who was subsequently substituted for Molyneux three minutes before the break, ballooned his shot over the bar via the body of Brundle.
Brundle then almost put himself on the scoresheet when his drive from Bobby-Joe Taylor’s corner was well blocked by the home defence.
Following the restart, Jamie Allen sent two efforts wide, one from inside the area following good wing play from Jeffrey, and then another from just outside the penalty box.
James’ nearly reduced the arrears, but Worgan denied the striker from an angle with his legs.
New Hartlepool signing David Edgar could only look in disbelief after being denied a debut goal.
The Canadian international headed Liam Noble’s corner goalwards, only to see the ball hit Reason on the head and bounce up onto the crossbar before dropping down onto the the goalline and away to safety.
The deficit was halved on 70 minutes when referee Leigh Doughty gave a penalty against Taylor after a cross struck the left-back’s hand from five yards.
Hawkes converted and then nearly completed the comeback seconds later.
James found the midfielder in the box to fire goalwards, only for Worgan to block from point-blank range.
However the equaliser arrived after another penalty was given three minutes after the previous. The referee deemed Jeffrey’s tackle in the area to be unfair and pointed to the spot, leaving Hawkes to smash the ball past Worgan to make the scores level.
Sub Inih Effiong nearly won it for Dover as Scott Loach Palmed away his curling shot and the home side countered Dover’s attack to grab a dramatic late winner.
Earlier, boss Hessenthaler made two changes to the side that started against Braintree Town last week. Jeffrey and Danny McNamara came in for Scott Doe and Ricky Modeste.
Whites next host Boreham Wood in the National League on Tuesday 12th March, kick off 7:45pm.
DOVER ATHLETIC REACTION
|Date||Time||League||Season||Full Time||Attendance||Man of the Match|
|9th March 2019||3:00 pm||National League||2018-2019||90'||3,431||Stuart Lewis|
|The Super Six Stadium|
|Victoria Football Ground, Clarence Road, Hartlepool TS24 8BZ, United Kingdom|
|Referee||Referee's Assistants||Fourth Official|
|Lloyd Wood||Dale Baines|