Dover’S play-off hopes hang in the balance following a narrow defeat to fellow promotion chasers Tranmere at Crabble on Tuesday night.
Andy Cook capitalised on Manny Parry’s error six minutes before the break and slotted the ball into the bottom corner, in spite of Connor Essam’s attempts to clear the ball off the line.
And Cook could have added to his tally of 25 goals this season earlier in the match, racing through on goal within seconds of the kick-off, but Mitch Walker was equal to the National League’s top scorer’s low drive.
Cook and strike partner James Norwood then combined with the latter seeing his strike blocked by Essam.
Visiting stopper Scott Davies misjudged a free kick into the area, but his backline spared the keeper’s blushes after the ball flew over the former Fleetwood Town man’s head.
Livewire Cook almost stunned the home crowd, turning his man and curling inches wide from 25-yards.
And at the other end, Parry skied from over close range following a corner and the same player rose highest to meet Mitch Pinnock’s cross, but nodded over.
But it was Cook who opened the scoring and Rovers almost doubled their lead following the restart..
Connor Jennings sprinted clear, but was unable to find a way past Walker.
Cook could only direct Larnell Cole’s cross into Walker’s arms and James Norburn’s 20-yard rocket had Athletic’s stopper scrambling across his goal.
And hotshot forward Cook went for glory from distance after Norwood nodded the ball into his path, missing the far post by inches.
Athletic pressed for an leveller, but were unable to find a way past a resolute Rovers defence. The loss sees Whites drop once place to ninth in the standings, three points outside the play-offs.
Earlier boss Kinnear made one change to the side that started at Maidenhead on Saturday. Azeez replaced Ryan Bird, who started as a substitute.
Dover: Walker, Ilesanmi, Gallifouco, Parry, Essam, Brundle (c), Pinnock (Marsh-Brown 69), Jeffrey (Daniel 69), Lokko, Bellamy, Azeez (Bird 73).
Subs not used: Passley, Nortey.
Tranmere: Davies, McNulty (c), Buxton, Hughes, Jennings, Norwood, Sutton, Ridehalgh, Cole (Harris 83), Norburn, Cook.
Subs not used: Taylor, Mangan, Ginnelly, Clarke,
Referee: David Rock
Yellows: Jeffrey (Dover), Buxton, Ridehalgh (Tranmere)