ALFIE Pavey’s second-half finish handed Athletic a single-goal victory at Ebbsfleet United on Bank Holiday Monday.
The striker smashed in Anthony Jeffrey’s ball into the area in the 52nd minute to move Andy Hessenthaler’s men up to 15th on the National League table.
The away also ends Fleet’s playoff bid, with Garry Hill’s men six points behind seventh-placed Eastleigh with one game of the season remaining.
Pavey had combined with Jeffrey, coolly converting the winger’s cross on 10 minutes, only to be ruled offside by the linesman.
Home keeper Nathan Ashmore then let Pavey’s ball into the area out of his grasp, but his defence was on hand to block the follow-up shot from the onrushing Mitch Brundle.
Lee Worgan was called into action for the first time midway through the first half.
The visiting stopper beat away Danny Kedwell’s drive after Gozie Ugwu’s initial strike was blocked.
At the other end, Ashmore dived low to parry Bobby-Joe Taylor’s accurate freekick away for a corner.
Jeffrey then outpaced Lawrie Wilson out wide, however, Pavey was unable to guide the winger’s driven cross goalwards.
And the visiting fans were celebrating ten minutes before the break.
Brundle sent a thumping header past Ashmore from Taylor’s set-piece, but Dover’s joy was short-lived as the linesman signalled offside once more, despite heated protestations from Athletic’s skipper
Brundle tried again, seeing his close-range effort at the far post from Jeffrey’s cross clip Myles Weston’s heels and spin away for a corner.
Lokko sent Jamie Allen’s ball wide of the mark and Jai Reason nodded Taylor’s centre narrowly over as the away side continued to apply pressure.
Dover went even closer following the restart through Pavey.
The centre-forward curled Brundle’s lay-off onto the crossbar with Ashmore beaten.
But Pavey was not to be denied and fired Dover ahead on 52 minutes.
Jeffrey fired across the goalmouth for the centre-forward to notch his sixth National League goal of the campaign.
Worgan denied Fleet an instant leveller, saving Bagasan Graham’s bouncing header and the same player volleyed high over Worgan’s crossbar minutes later.
Danny Kedwell was just off target with a header from Jack Payne’s ball in the area and a Dover counter attack nearly ended with Jeffrey netting, only for Ashmore to pluck the ball from out of the Guyana international’s feet as he went to round Fleet’s keeper.
Whites’ fans behind the Fleet goal were stunned when Jeffrey missed his next chance.
The pacey wide man blasting over from a few yards after sub Inih Effiong had diverted Josh Passley’s pass towards goal.
Effiong shielded Ashmore off the ball, but Pavey curled his fellow striker’s ball wide of the mark.
Reason then headed Passley’s cross over the bar, but despite late home pressure, Athletic held on to register their sixth league win on the road this campaign.
Earlier boss Hessenthaler made four changes to the side that beat Aldershot on Good Friday. Passley, Pavey, Reason and Scott Doe came in for Effiong, Nortei Nortey, Manny Adebowale and Joshua Debayo.
Whites next host Sutton United on Saturday 27th April, Dover’s final National League game of the 2018/19 campaign, kick off 12:30 pm.
DOVER ATHLETIC REACTION
EBBSFLEET UNITED REACTION
WHITES’ National league playoff hopes were dealt a blow after Andy Drury grabbed a last minute winner for Ebbsfleet in Bank Holiday Monday’s Kent derby at Stonebridge Road.
The midfielder slotted in from a tight angle following a free-kick to cancel out Keanu Marsh-Brown’s penalty just minutes earlier.
Hosts United, who had taken a second-half lead through Sean Shields, were nearly ahead within minutes of the kick-off as Corey Whitely volleyed Marvin McCoy’s cross just over.
At the other end, a long throw ended with Mitch Brundle firing a deflected effort into home stopper Nathan Ashmore’s hands.
And Mitch Walker was called into action for the first time midway through the first half.
The visiting keeper reached down low to tip Drury’s low drive onto the post and away from danger.
Femi Ilesanmi found himself as the last line of defence after Ashmore’s long kick set Luke Coulson clear, but the wing-back was able to come away with the ball following a perfectly-timed tackle.
Walker was soon on hand to deny United once again, this time saving Danny Kedwell’s goalbound header.
Ade Azeez then slid in to connect to Ilesanmi’s cross-cum-shot but was unable to get the crucial touch as the ball rolled out for a goal kick.
Dave Winfield and Coulson seemed to clash as they both simultaneously headed Kedwell’s cross wide and shortly after, Whitely flashed an effort from the edge of the area past the wrong side of Walker’s right-hand post.
And with the break looming, Shields blazed over from 20 yards after getting the better of Giancarlo Gallifuoco out wide.
Ebbsfleet had the lead nine minutes after the restart as Shields cut inside Azeez out wide and fired through Walker from an angle.
Whites tried to hit back and substitute Josh Passley nearly levelled when his deep cross looped just beyond the corner of the post and bar with Ashmore beaten.
Kedwell smashed a low shot wide from outside the area and goalscorer Shields tested Walker from range.
And Dover’s captain went even closer to finding the net from distance.
Brundle collected sub Marsh-Brown’s pass and rattled the crossbar with a 30-yard strike.
And Chris Kinnear’s men thought they were going home with a point after Marsh-Brown sent Ashmore the wrong way following the referee’s decision to award a penalty once Gallifuoco was felled in the box.
But Drury had the final say with a last-gasp winner as Athletic lost their second consecutive National League match.
Earlier, boss Kinnear named the same side that started at Eastleigh on Tuesday night. Nortei Nortey replaced Ejiro Okosieme on the bench.
DOVER ATHLETIC REACTION
EBBSFLEET UNITED REACTION