*IS*Luke I’Anson challenges Craig Faulconbridge during his full debut at Woking.*IF*
*BS*Dover Athletic vs Welling United – Match Preview*BF*
Blue Square Bet South football returns to Perrys Crabble tonight.
Martin Hayes’ new-look side seem to have kept the belief and competitive edge engendered by Andy Hessenthaler, while adding some extra pace, skill and physical strength to last seasons squad.
Two things stood out for me at Woking on Saturday:-
1. New faces stepped up to the plate, particularly in the first half as Dover pinned Woking back in their own half. Despite a nightmare moment conceding possession when Whites committed too many men forward for a corner, Kane Rice gave the team a very different option on the left wing.
*Lpic1*Hugging the touchline to stretch the Woking backline, Rice frequently darted inside to unsettle their defence and create space for Birchall and Charles. Quick and alert, his distribution was neat too.
Elliott Charles showed good instinct for his goal, after Birchall ran down a lost cause. Many players wouldn’t have been there when Adam won possession to roll the ball across the six yard box. Elliott also won the first-half penalty, showing quick feet to draw the foul.
2. Strong and disciplined defending ensured a clean sheet. What was encouraging was the balance, strength and lack of weaknesses across the back four.
At times last season Whites were occasionally undone due to the lack of physical presence on the left side of the defence. New signings Rob Gillman and Tom Wynter are built for football at this level or above. All four of Saturday backline have different attributes and provide attacking potential as well as a resolute defence.
Strength in depth at the back may still become an issue, as the absence of Jackson Ohakam leaves the squad a man short. However, Sam Cutler, James Rogers and Kane Rice have experience of playing at full back if required.
*BS*Tuesday’s visitors: Welling United*BF*
Managed by former Dover midfielder Jamie Day, the Wings had a decent season last term. Day took a faltering side and turned them into a team that was much harder to beat, finishing close to the play-offs. A small squad held them back at the vital moment.
This summer Welling have built that squad, signing extra firepower and creating much needed competition for places in most areas of the side. The key signing is Andy Pugh, whose goals propelled them up the league table last season whilst on loan from Gillingham.
The goalpoacher also had a short spell at Perrys Crabble but only managed one goal when Andy Hessenthaler’s side were going through a bit of a rough patch of form.
Pugh is joined up front by another ex Gillingham forward and Dover loanee, Luis Cumbers. It didn’t really click for Luis here last Spring but the skilful and versatile player will be an asset for the Wings.
Unfortunately for Jamie Day, two important players are already on the treatment table. Exciting new signing Loick Pires has been sidelined for up to three weeks with a swollen knee, while penalty specialist Lee Clarke is out for around six weeks due to a fractured cheekbone.
Defensively, Charlie Mitten remains their first choice keeper so expect a bit of light-hearted banter behind the goal tonight.
An improvement on last season is new left back Jamie Coyle, who joined from Dartford this summer. He is a reliable player who will hope to take his chance in Blue Square Bet South after many years of Ryman League football at Dulwich Hamlet and the team formerly known as Gravesend & Northfleet.
*BS*DOVER ATHLETIC vs WELLING UNITED
Tuesday 17 August: 7.45pm kick-off*BF*