A late double from substitute Alfie Pavey handed Dover a winning start as Andy Hessenthaler’s men came from behind to win their opening match of the National League season.
After Scott Boden had fired the hosts ahead with 18 minutes remaining, Pavey scored a brace of headers to hand Athletic a first ever win against Chesterfield.
Whites were twice thwarted early on by home keeper Shwan Jalal, with Michael Woods and Jack Munns seeing their efforts tipped over the crossbar.
Kevin Lokko then dived towards Bobby-Joe Taylor’s free-kick, but was unable to connect with his head.
Another Taylor set piece caused more problems, but Jalal beat his vicious shot away.
Following the restart, Liam Mandeville’s cross-cum-shot almost caught out visiting stopper Lee Worgan.
Dover’s keeper was then the hero, stooping low to paw away Boden’s drive and then was up quickly to brilliantly deny Mandeville following up from six yards.
Oscar Gobern went close with a 25-yard effort just over the bar, however, it was the home side who went ahead on 72 minutes thanks to their top scorer last season.
Boden turned in the box after receiving Joe Rowley’s pass and coolly slotted past Worgan to open his account for the campaign.
But Dover were behind for only five minutes.
Pavey, who had come on a minute before Boden struck the opener, rose highest to send a bullet header past Jalal from Josh Passley’s cross.
Boden almost grabbed his second, with his header well tipped over by Worgan.
But it was Pavey who sent himself joint-top of the goalscoring charts with seven minutes remaining, firmly heading Taylor’s ball past Jalal.
Athletic held on to win their opening match for the second time in three past seasons.
Earlier, boss Hessenthaler handed four debuts with Steven Rigg, Woods, Gobern and Munns given starts.
Whites next host Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday 6th August, kick off 7:45 pm
DOVER ATHLETIC REACTION
TEN-MAN Whites gained their first clean sheet of the season with a goalless draw at Chesterfield, though the points almost stayed at the Proact Stadium in a dramatic finale.
After Aryan Tajbakhsh was shown a second booking, both Bradley Barry and Curtis Weston struck the woodwork in the dying moments.
It was almost the dream start for Chris Kinnear’s men as Tim Schmoll, diving at full stretch, headed over Mitch Brundle’s cross following a short corner.
And Lee Shaw blazed over from inside the area for the hosts after some trickery from Joe Rowley.
Brundle’s 20-yard shot lacked the power needed to trouble home keeper Shwan Jalal.
But Mitch Walker in the Dover goal had to produce a fine save on 25 minutes.
Schmoll’s well-timed tackle on Curtis Weston in the area fell for Shaw, but a combination of Walker and Moussa Diarra kept out the forward’s angled drive.
Chigozi Ugwu struck a 25-yard effort straight down the throat of Walker just before the break.
Following the restart, Binnom-Williams nodded Rowley’s corner inches over.
And set piece taker Rowley smashed sub Zavon Hines pass wide of the angle in a bright start from Martin Allen’s men.
Schmoll and Tajbakhsh fired over from distance for Whites, but the best opportunity of the match so far came at the other end.
Barry’s devilish cross ended with Walker denying the lying-in-wait Rowley at his near post in spectacular fashion.
Sub Kadell Daniel’s shot with his first touch was no match for Jalal and Walker tipped Hines’ fierce drive around the post.
And Michael Nelson almost scored from the resultant corner, scuffing wide when well placed at the back post.
Athletic ended the game a man light as Tajbakhsh was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence in injury time.
And it almost proved costly as the hosts struck the post and crossbar seconds before the final whistle.
Barry headed against the post from a cross with Walker somehow touching Weston’s rebound shot onto the bar, seconds before the referee called time on the game.
Earlier, boss Kinnear made two changes to the side that drew with Ebbsfleet. Anthony Jeffrey and Jack Connors replaced sub Nortei Nortey and George Smith, ineligible to face his parent club.
Whites next host Solihull Moors on Saturday 15th September, kick-off 3 pm.
DOVER ATHLETIC REACTION