DOVER 2-2 MAIDSTONE
(Nortey 58) (Piggott (36,41)
RYAN Bird’s goal ten minutes from time saw Whites complete an impressive second half comeback in a thrilling Boxing Day Kent derby at a rainy Crabble.
Trailing to two Joe Piggott strikes at the break, Nortei Nortey headed home shortly after the restart and Bird pounced to level the scores after visiting keeper Lee Worgan parried sub Kadell Daniel’s cross-cum-shot to Athletic’s top scorer.
The visitors fashioned the first chance, but Aaron Collins was unable to direct Piggott’s high ball into the box on target.
The Wolves loanee then tried again, this time testing home stopper Mitch Walker from twenty-yards.
Dover’s first shot on target came on 21 minutes from Bird as he headed Mitch Pinnock’s free-kick straight at Worgan.
And Anthony Jeffrey also attempted to score with his head, but nodded Josh Passley’s centre well wide of the mark.
A set piece provided Whites next chance as Connor Essam nodded over Pinnock’s corner.
And seconds later Bird almost put the hosts ahead. The striker fired Femi Ilesanmi’s low cross towards the bottom corner, but Worgan flung himself to tip the ball around the post.
But it was the away side who had the lead ten minutes before the break.
Seth Nana Twusami took advantage of hesitation by Jeffrey and crossed for Collins, who flicked the ball away from Walker’s clutches and straight to the laying-in-wait Piggott to take a touch and curl into the far corner.
And Maidstone’s top scorer doubled his match tally minutes later.
The forward was left alone in the box to power in his 12th of the season from Jamar Loza’s accurate cross.
The forward almost had his hat-trick after the break, but was unable to get the better of Walker at the near post after winning a tussle in the penalty area.
Skipper Mitch Brundle almost had Dover back in contention, striking the underside of the crossbar with a stunning 30-yard lob.
And Athletic went close again minutes later with Worgan forced to tip over Passley’s floated ball into the box.
The home pressure continued with Bird a whisker away from connecting to Pinnock’s driven pass across the goalmouth.
But Dover were back in the game with just over 30 minutes left of the clock.
Passley tossed in a ball from the right for Nortey to head into the bottom corner – past Worgan’s despairing grasp.
The home crowd were almost celebrating an equaliser shortly after, but Kadell Daniel stabbed over Manny Parry’s ball to him from close range.
But the substitute proved integral to Whites equaliser ten minutes from time. The winger’s long-range shot from an angle deceived Worgan, who could only parry the ball upwards, allowing Bird to gleefully prod in his twelfth National League goal of the season.
Stones’ goalie faired better when blocking Pinnock’s lashed effort with his legs as the home team searched for a winner.
And it looked like Giancarlo Gallifuoco would complete a stunning turnaround, but Worgan somehow caught the Australian’s point-blank header from Brundle’s cross.
Earlier, boss Kinnear kept with the same side that drew at Wrexham on Saturday.
Whites next host FC Halifax Town on Saturday 30th December. Kick off 3pm.
Dover: Walker, Passley, Ilesanmi, Gallifuoco, Parry, Esssam, Brundle (c), Pinnock, Bird, Nortey, Jeffrey (Daniel 54).
Subs not used: Richards, Fazakerley, Alabi, Dean-Conteh.
Maidstone: Worgan (c), Finney (Okuonghae 15), Wynter, Lewis, Loza (Prestedge 70), Anderson, Reason, Twusami, Hines, Piggott, Collins.
Subs not used: Hare, Paxman, Wraight.
Referee: Sam Purkiss