|NATIONWIDE CONFERENCE||Saturday 2 March 2002||Crabble Athletic Ground|
|Dover Athletic||2 - 1||Farnborough Town|
|Kelly (74), Strouts (90)||Att: 1008||Browne (o.g. 38)|
DOVER ATHLETIC: Hyde, Scott, Kelly, Carruthers, Browne, Seabury, Le Bihan (Davies 69, James 72), Norman, Strouts, Leberl, Aggery (Day 55)
Substitutes Not Used: Bathgate, Smith
FARNBOROUGH TOWN: Pennock, Laker, Gregory, Taggart (L.Piper 78), Annon, Warner, Holloway, Watson, C.Piper (Green 78), De Souza (Dublin 90), Crawshaw
Substitutes Not Used: Benstead, O'Shea
|Booked: Aggrey, Browne
||Booked: Taggart, De Souza, Laker, Annon
When Tony Browne inadvertently put the ball into the wrong net on 38 minutes, Dover fans could have been forgiven for thinking that it was going to be another one of those days that have been so frequent since the turn of the year. Without a point since Boxing Day and rooted to the bottom of the table, the Dr. Martens League beckoned for the Whites until the fourth minute of injury time when Jimmy Strouts ghosted in at the back post to nod Matt Carruthers' free-kick into the back of the net for a vital winning goal that keeps alive Dover's hopes of what would be a miraculous escape.
Before Strouts' dramatic late winner, Leon Kelly had equalised the scores on 74 minutes, with Strouts this time the provider, nodding the ball on to Kelly who drove a low shot into the bottom corner of the net.
It was no more than the Whites deserved, particularly given that Athletic had dominated the reverse fixture at Cherrywood Road in September but on that occasion failed to register a point.
Despite Farnborough having little to play for, they still came at Dover and six players were booked in a hard-fought game. Jimmy Aggrey and Miguel De Souza were involved in an off-the-ball flare-up in the first half that resulted in both being booked after Aggrey shoved De Souza and the ex-Rushden forward retaliated with an elbow.
With the score at 0-1, Neville Southall brought on Jamie Day in place of Aggrey on 55 minutes, and 14 minutes later Darren Davies replaced Neil Le Bihan. Davies lasted only three minutes before being involved in a collision with Farnborough keeper Tony Pennock. Davies challenged for the ball as Pennock rose to catch it. Pennock collided with Davies and fell over the top of him, falling akwardly, on his shoulder and banging his head on the ground. Davies came off worse and appeared to be knocked unconscious. The club doctor was called onto the pitch before Davies was carried off on a stretcher. Pennock was able to continue after treatment. Davies was later said to be suffering from concussion. Davies was replaced by Kristan James.
This was not a vintage display by Dover but their determination to win was enough to just edge out Farnborough. Strouts' winner was one of those moments that makes the bad times seem worthwhile and both players and supporters celebrated as if they had won the European Cup.
With everybody else in the bottom seven failing to win on Saturday, Dover have cut the gap on those above them but the task facing the Whites is still huge, requiring probably at least 18 points from their remaining ten fixtures, including trips to title challengers Boston United (next week) and Yeovil Town. But with games against fellow strugglers Woking, Stalybridge, Chester and Leigh still to come, there is still a chance of a remarkable escape.
One of the deciding factors in the relegation battle could be how the other sides do in their games in hand. Woking, Leigh, Chester, Stalybridge and Scarborough all play on Tuesday night.
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