DANIEL BRAITHWAITE believes Whites will stay up if they beat Tonbridge next Saturday.
The defender – who helped Dover beat play-off chasing Hampton and Richmond yesterday – says back-to-back wins will give the team a huge confidence boost for the final games against Wealdstone and Eastleigh.
If Whites are to survive, it will go right down to the wire when we play high-flying Eastleigh on Saturday, April 30, at the Hoverspeed Stadium.
A win for Harrow against Leyton and draw for Cheshunt against Folkestone leaves us four points adrift of safety but we have a better goal difference than all our relegation rivals.
Daniel said: “It’s a shame results didn’t all go our way. We’ve just got to keep winning. It was definitely a massive confidence boost to beat Hampton, going into our next two away games.
“If we beat Tonbridge, I think we’ll stay up. It will mean that we’ve put back-to-back wins together that will give us momentum going into the last two matches.
“We’ve got Eastleigh on the final day but after drawing at Braintree and beating Hampton at home – two of the top sides – we should hold no fears against any side. We can beat anyone if we perform.
“We’ve got to aim for taking six points from the next two away games to set up a cup final against Eastleigh on the final day, which will create one hell of an atmosphere at home.
“I can imagine there being a huge crowd for that one. Let’s hope we can set that up by beating Tonbridge and Wealdstone away – which of course are not going to be easy games for us.
“You have to say to get into this position, having been all but relegated at Christmas, is remarkable and we would’ve definitely taken our current position had it been offered then.
“Despite our position in the league, there is a lot more optimism around the place and, under Clive Walker, the fans have a lot to shout about.”
The crucial factor, says Daniel, in this run-in is striker Craig Wilkins, who has scored two goals in two matches since returning from a long-term back injury.
He said: “We’ve defintely missed Wilko’s presence upfront. He’s physical and can hold the ball up. He takes the pressure off you at times. It was something we definitely needed and he scores goals. Hopefully his quality will show in the remaining games.”
Whites’ performance yesterday was one of the best this season – and it was vital that three points were taken, because the writing would have virtually been on the wall.
Daniel admits: “Had we lost, it would’ve been curtains. The first thing we asked for at the end were the results. We heard Cheshunt and Tonbridge had drawn and that gave us a boost.
“Harrow beat Leyton, which was disappointing. Victor Renner used to play for Leyton and he asked the lads if they could do us a favour – and they asked for us to do likewise as Hampton are their play-off rivals.
“We did our bit – but they’ve not kept their side of the bargain.”
The 1-1 draw at Braintree was particulary satisfying for Walker’s men. After the terrible 1-0 home defeat against Folkestone – arguably our worst performance of the season – most people had written Dover’s chances off.
Daniel said: “No-one expected us to get a result a Braintree. The reaction of their manager, George Borg, at half time and the end said it all, really. The changing rooms are close together up there and we could hear everything he was saying.
“He wasn’t pleased and that spurred us on for the second half. We heard him ranting and raving and knew we were doing a good job. So we thought we’ve just got to keep doing what we were doing and we may even win the match.
“We’d have settled for 1-1 before the game. It’s great to get four points against top sides. Let’s hope we can keep the momentum going, which will keep us up.
“The Folkestone game was very disappointing and there was no way we couldn’t improve on that.”
Daniel was one of 11 players offered new contracts by the club. Eight players have already signed. Along with Victor Renner and Walid Matata, Daniel’s deal currently remains unsigned – but the Whites ace said he is intending to put pen to paper.
He said: “I got a letter through the post last week and have a month to think it over.
“Signing it isn’t depending on what division we’ll be playing in. I’m certainly hoping Dover stay up because you can see the club going in the right direction.
“And if we do stay up, I can really see us making an impact on the league next year. If we go down, I think we’ll be going for promotion.
“If we’re relegated but things are right, I’d like to stay. I’ve a family, full-time job, travel down from afar and things have got to be good for me. But hopefully I’ll stay and help us get back up next season if we go down or win promotion to Conference South if we survive.
“Narada Bernard, Ali Heselton and myself all travel down together. They’re not talking to the club until the season is over because they’re new players. But it’d be great if they stay. We all share the driving.”