AN EARLY goal from Adrian Clifton kept Athletic entrenched in the National League dog fight.
The striker fired home on 13 minutes, via a deflection off defender Scott Doe, as Andy Hessenthaler’s side lost for the first time on their travels in five matches.
Dover’s defeat, their third in four National League matches, leaves them one point and one place above the relegation zone.
An early chance for the hosts saw Clifton’s cross-cum-shot deflected goalwards by Ryan Upward, however, right-back Danny McNamara was on hand to thump clear before the ball could cross the line.
Mitch Brundle then let fly with a volley from the edge of the box, with home keeper Carl Pentney forced into a finger-tip save over the bar.
After scoring, Clifton can only wonder how he was unable to double the lead 12 minutes later.
Walker parried Sam Nombe’s ball into the area only as far as the big striker, but Maidenhead’s top scorer smacked his shot against the crossbar.
Following the restart, Walker came to Dover’s rescue with a brave point-blank block to deny Nombe from close range following Upward’s pass across goal.
The danger wasn’t quite over as the rebound fell for James Akintunde, but the attacker blazed well over from a few yards.
Kevin Lokko headed McNamara’s cross wide of the mark as the away team pushed for a leveller and Akintunde smashed over from 20 yards at the other end of the pitch.
Substitute Alfie Pavey latched onto Brundle’s lofted pass, but Pentney was out quickly to block the striker’s header.
Odametey let fly from range following a swift counter-attack, however, Walker produced a brilliant save to stop the ball finding the top corner.
Upward nearly sealed the win for the Berkshire side, seeing his effort deflect inches wide.
Akintunde raced clear onto sub Mike Fondop’s ball, but the forward was once again denied by the onrushing Walker.
Fondop then skewed wide and Whites almost stole an unlikely point at the death.
Pavey found some space in the area but saw his strike hit the Maidenhead defence and bounce away to safety.
Earlier, boss Hessenthaler made one change to the side that won 3-1 at Salford last week, with Brundle back from injury to replace Jai Reason.
Whites next host Braintree Town in the National League on Saturday 2nd March, kick-off 3 pm.
DOVER ATHLETIC REACTION
WHITES missed the chance to move into the play-offs after Maidenhead’s injury time winner.
Max Kilman strode forward And fired a deflected 30-yard shot into the top corner to hand the home team the points in a game Whites’ twice led.
Early in the game, Mitch Brundle lashed a 25-yard effort on goal, which home stopper Carl Pentney held onto.
And Femi Ilesanmi then saw his close-range effort from Mitch Pinnock’s lay-off blocked by the United defence.
Sam Barrett fired goalwards from the edge of the area, with Mitch Walker able to get his whole body behind the ball.
And a frantic start continued with Pinnock curling a shot narrowly wide of Pentney’s post.
And Ryan bird went close just moments later.
The striker rose above the home defence to meet Femi Ilesanmi’s cross, but could only head over the crossbar.
Pinnock headed Pentney’s punch back towards goal, but Maidenhead’s keeper was quick to get back onto his line and catch the ball.
And Whites thought they were ahead on 37 minutes.
Pentney parried Pinnock’s drive with Giancarlo Gallifuoco ready at the back post to head home, but the Australian’s celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.
Alan Massey then came to the rescue for the hosts just before the break, clearing Anthony Jeffrey’s deflected cross from underneath the bar.
But Whites were ahead four minutes after the restart thanks to that man Jeffrey.
The pacy winger’s cross seemed to deceive Pentney and found it’s way into the far corner for the Sutton loanee’s first goal for Dover.
However, Athletic’s lead did not last long as Jake Hyde swept in Barrett’s set-piece just minutes later.
The response from Chris Kinnear’s men was instant thanks to Manny Parry’s fifth National League goal of the season.
The defender collected Pinnock’s flick and fired into the bottom corner to put the away side ahead for a second time.
And the goals kept coming in an entertaining half.
Barrett’s long throw found it’s way to Upward at the back post, who had the simple task of blasting United level.
As the game drew to a close, sub Sean Marks volleyed wide and at the other end, no Dover player was able to connect with Ilesanmi’s cross-cum-shot.
But the home side had the final say as Kilman fired home the winner that secured safety for Maidenhead in their debut campaign in non-league’s top flight.
Earlier, Kinnear made two changes to the side that started against Torquay last week. Liam Bellamy and Pinnock replaced Josh Passley and Nortei Nortey, who started as substitutes.
DOVER ATHLETIC REACTION
MAIDENHEAD UNITED REACTION