Whites maintained their lead at the top of the league with a comfortable three-nil victory over Croydon Athletic. James Rogers opened the scoring with a neat drive from a tight angle, with Frannie Collin soon netting his 20th goal of the season before the interval. Laurence Ball added to the lead after halftime with his first senior goal for the club.
After the uncharacteristic below-par performance against Horsham YMCA in midweek, Hess made a couple of changes to the starting eleven. Craig Cloke was serving a one-match suspension, so Jimmy Dryden made his first start in a month. Matt Bourne was also preferred to Graeme Andrews in defence.
Whites made a really bright start, especially Dryden. With only a couple of minutes played, Jon Wallis swung a dangerous free kick into the box, and Jimmy prodded the ball just wide. He then charged down a clearance and was through on goal, but the referee pulled it back for handball.
Not long afterwards, Dryden almost turned provider, as his looping cross was punched off the head of Collin as he looked to nod the ball goalwards. Jimmy then had a free kick charged down by the wall, and although the ball bobbled goalwards, it was just in front of Lee Browning who couldn’t stretch to turn it into the net.
The visitors briefly threatened however, and hit the bar with 17 minutes on the clock. A free kick was cleared to Moses Ademola 25-yards out, and his shot was deflected by Keister as he charged it down, and it looped over John Whitehouse and cannoned off the bar, with Matt Bourne clearing the rebound.
But it was Dover who got the opener after 23 minutes. Matt Fish made a bursting run down the right, cut inside and shot for goal. The keeper did well to parry the ball, but James Rogers was on hand to drive the rebound under the keeper – his third goal of the season, all coming in the past six games where he has been utilised as a left wing-back.
And with the half coming to an end, the lead was doubled. Whitehouse did well to claim a cross under pressure, and launched the ball down field. Dryden flicked the ball into the path of Collin, who coolly rounded the keeper and put the ball into the empty net. It was a real ‘route one’ goal, something we have hardly seen from Dover this season.
It could have been three just before the break. Collin broke quickly down the left, and found Fish free at the back post. He drove the ball into the side netting, when he could have squared for Dryden, but the side was more than happy with the two-goal advantage they took into the interval.
Croydon came out of the blocks quickly at the start of the second half, and took the game to Dover. They dominated the early exchanges, but the closest they came to getting back into the game was through Ademola. He struck the ball goalwards from a neat break down the right by Jordan Kiffin, but James Rogers did well to block the goalbound shot.
The visitors’ possession couldn’t force a fightback however, and the game was effectively sealed after 69 minutes. Wallis’ free kick hit the ball and deflected past the post for a corner. From Jon’s set piece, he picked out Laurence Ball at the back post who headed the ball over the line for the third goal.
The game then fizzled out, with both sides making their three allotted substitutions each, but neither was able to add to the the scoresheet. The closest was when Collin broke down the left, and his cutback picked out Wallis at the near post, but Jon headed wide.
This was a fairly comfortable win in the end for the side, as they took their chances at vital times to secure the three points. Whites just need to keep trying to do this in their final 13 ‘cup-finals’, with Molesey next up on Tuesday, a side who will I’m sure will push Dover all the way as they battle to keep their place in this league.
Referee: Mr. Carl Brook Assistants: Mr. Gary Croft & Mr. Ronald Albert
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