WHITES take on Walton Casuals Tuesday night – with boss Clive Walker warning that his side cannot afford to be casual themselves.
The Surrey visitors are unbeaten in their last five matches and hammered our Saturday opponents Newport (Isle of Wight) 5-2 a couple of weeks back.
Clive said: “They’ve been getting some decent results. We’ll have to work hard to break them down and make sure we finish the game with our noses in front.”
Craig Wilkins (twisted ankle) and Craig Cloke (bruised knee) are both carrying knocks but should be fit to play – while Anthony Hogg and Tommy Tyne remain on the treatment table for at least a couple of weeks.
Victory will mean that Whites will have won all seven of their opening Ryman League Division One matches – but Clive is quick to point out that his men have achieved nothing yet.
He said: “We’ve got to keep winning to remain towards the top of the table. We’re four points off the top, with two games in hand, but I’d rather we had the points on the board.
“It’s important that we keep the pressure on by winning every week and then we can take advantage of any slip-ups elsewhere. The weather is about to change for the worst and results start becoming unpredictable.
“Teams that are doing well now may start to struggle in the winter conditions. We’ve got to make sure that we don’t and keep our good form going.”
Carl Rook’s goalscoring debut – alongside a dominant Dover performance – was a huge plus points to take out of Saturday’s 1-0 win against Newport IoW. It was just the display Clive was looking for after a terrible performance at Chelmsford in the FA Cup a week earlier.
Striker Rook, snapped up from Hastings to bolster the squad after Tommy Tyne injured his hamstring, looks as though he is going to be a great asset for Whites.
Clive also believes that Tommy’s injury is not as bad as first feared and the popular hitman could be back in action within a couple of weeks.
Will that create a problem for Clive – if Rook and Wilkins continue to look good together up front?
“Not really,” says Clive.
“The good thing about Tommy is he can play in a number of different positions. If we’ve got Rooky and Wilko scoring goals for us, I won’t want to change that. Tommy can play in midfield or on the flank – so when he is fit again, we’ll be looking at the situation.
“It all depends on players’ form. Everyone is in competition for places and it’s healthy for the squad.”
Clive and chairman Jim Parmenter have made approaches for a number of players in the past few days – and hope to hold talks later this week with their wishlist of targets.
Jim explained: “We’ve put some seven-day approaches in for certain players. We’ve got a list of players we’d like to bring to Crabble and are just putting irons in the fire at the moment.
“We don’t know if we’ll be able to bring anyone in until we’ve spoken to the players concerned. But we are actively looking at strengthening the squad with next season in mind.
“It’s our target to get two successive promotions – so we’ve got to keep one eye on next season too. Although, it goes without saying that the main priority is getting out of Ryman League Division One.”
Clive admits that this division is much more difficult than some people give it credit for. Although he understands how most teams play, Clive does not spend too much time assessing other sides’ strengths.
He said: “Most teams, as we’ve seen, are going to defend at the edge of their 18-yard box when they play us – and we’ve got to break them down.
“I’ve had a few teams watched but there’s little point spending too much time looking at all the sides, because, at this level, things change quickly.
“Players are constantly moving about in the Ryman League and, by the time you play these sides, they’ve changed many of their players from when you’ve watched them before.
“It’s much better to concentrate on what we do at this level. Obviously, when we get to a higher level, other teams are more settled and we’ll take more time looking at them.”
Don’t miss tomorrow night’s game. Our average gate is up significantly from last season and the club would love all its old fans to come back to support the Whites.
Jim added: “There’s a superb atmosphere at the club now. We’ve taken great strides forward on and off-the-field since taking control in January – and we welcome back all our fans with open arms.
“It’s been great to see a lot of the old faces coming back and we see that as a vote of confidence in what we’re trying to achieve at Dover Athletic.”
Kick-off is 7.45pm – everyone is welcome.