|PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY||Saturday 9 August 2003||Hoverspeed Stadium|
|Dover Athletic||2 - 2||Charlton Athletic XI|
|Day (Pen 8), Readings (18)||Att: TBC||Debolla (23, 25)|
Dover Athletic: Hyde, Browne, Dyer, D.Readings, Arnott, Wilkins (Chapman 46), Day, Spiller (Martin 90), Glover, Tyne (Amadi 56), Carruthers
Substitutes Not Used: Davies, Dent, Smissen, Rogers, K.Readings
Nobody was expecting Charlton Athletic to send a strong side to Crabble for this friendly, so when the teamsheet included Danish international Claus Jensen, Sweden's Mathias Svensson, England left-back Chris Powell and former England Under 21 stars Stephen Hughes and Chris Bart-Williams as well as former Everton and Chelsea favourite Graham Stuart, supporters at the Hoverspeed Stadium were pleasantly surprised. Whites boss Clive Walker was somewhat less pleased having expected a slightly easier examination in this the final warm-up game before the season gets properly underway next weekend.
However, the Dover manager need not have worried as his side produced a fine performance in the blistering heat and proved a stern challenge for their illustrious opponents. Walker's team included one unexpected change. Simon Glover came in for Darren Davies to make his first pre-season start as Dover explored an alternative way to cope with Danny Chapman's enforced six-match absence. Glover partnered Tommy Tyne in attack with summer signing Craig Wilkins reverting to defence. The rest of Charlton's first-team squad were in action at The Valley in Clive Mendonca's testimonial against NEC Nijmegen, so this was a mixed Addicks line-up including, among others, a name familiar to Whites fans, that of former Hayes goalkeeper Betrand Bossu, as well as 20-year-old rising star Mark Debolla.
Dover quickly gained the advantage in this battle of the Athletics, winning a penalty for a hand-ball as Charlton tried to clear the lines under pressure from Glover. Jamie Day preserved his immaculate Dover spot-kick record with an accurate side-footer low to Bossu's right to give the Whites the lead with just eight minutes on the clock.
The slightly surreal experience of watching Dr. Martens League Dover leading against a team featuring two players who starred in last summer's World Cup got wierder when the Whites doubled their lead on 18 minutes. Matt Carruthers was fouled near the corner flag in front of the changing rooms and Day delivered the free-kick from which Dean Readings eventually scored after Bossu failed to clear the intial danger. Readings blasted the ball in from a yard out for his first ever first team goal.
Normal service was soon resumed however when the impressive Debolla, recently promoted to Charlton's first-team squad, netted twice in as many minutes to make it 2-2 with 25 minutes played.
There were no additions to the score before the interval. Chapman replaced Wilkins for the second half and Amadi relieved Tyne eleven minutes after the restart.
The second half was great value with both sides dangerous in attack. The absence of further goals was not through lack of chances. Tony Browne should have restored Dover's lead with 57 minutes gone when he connected from close range at the back post, having been picked out by the vision of Amadi in the box, but his effort gave Bossu a chance of the save and the Frenchman made the necessary block.
The impressive Simon Glover was the next to threaten the Charlton goal. His 69th minute effort across goal beat Bossu but rolled wide of the far post.
At the other end Paul Hyde was in fine form to keep out the impressive array of attacking talent at Charlton's dispossal. The underside of the bar saved him on 80 minutes but he produced a great save with his outstretched left leg from the follow-up. Even Bossu in the opposite goal applauded, though he himself was less convincing a minute later when dealing with a corner. His flapping punch rebounded of the head of Glover, who knew nothing about it, and the ball rolled along the goal line without a Dover player close enough to provide the decisive touch.
The draw was a fair result at the end of this entertaining clash and there were many positives to take from Dover's performance. Simon Glover may have done enough to play himself into Clive Walker's starting line-up at Grantham next week as the season gets underway for real. But with 10 players already certain of their places, he will be competing with Darren Davies and Israel Amadi for that final spot.
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