*BS*DOVER BOSS Andy Hessenthaler will make several changes from Monday’s 5-2 win against Met Police when his side take on Brackley at Crabble in the FA Trophy on Saturday.*BF*
Lee Browning will be rested after picking up an injury, with Tuesday’s fixture at Sittingbourne in mind (providing there is no Trophy replay), while new signing Shaun Welford is cup-tied. Also missing from the starting line-up is likely to be the ‘gaffer’ himself, with the 42 year-old feeling now is the right time to give himself a game off.
Another player also missing will be Matt Carruthers, who Hessenthaler has not heard from since the forward injured himself playing Sunday League football. It seems we can presume he is unlikely to return to the club.
Should there be no need for a replay following Saturday’s tie, Tuesday’s Kent derby will be a key fixture for Hess’s men as they aim to keep in touch with front-runners Tooting & Mitcham and ahead of in form Walton & Hersham, who have games in hand.
Tooting are likely to go six points ahead of Athletic on Saturday when they play struggling Molesey in Ryman South, following both sides’ early departures from the FA Trophy. However, Dover will then have two games in hand, with the trip to Bourne Park being one of them.
*BS*Brackley at Home – Saturday, November 3 – 3.00pm*BF*
First up for Athletic though is the FA Trophy home tie against a side one level higher in the non-league pyramid. The Southern Premier outfit sit third in the table despite losing their last three league matches, 1-0 away to Cirencester, 3-0 at home to league leaders Hemel Hempstead and 2-0 at home to Tiverton.
The club has a small ground that can hold 1500 spectators but there are currently works going on at St James Park to improve terracing and facilities to help gain a higher ground grading.
*Ppic1*Brackley have several players with Football League experience:
– Dave Savage, former Republic of Ireland international, who played for Millwall, Northampton Town & Rushden & Diamonds;
– Richard Knight, former Oxford United goalkeeper and their player of the year four seasons ago;
– Tom Winters, former Oxford United winger;
– Martin Reeves, former Leicester City midfielder;
– Josh Green, former Luton Town centre half.
Whites boss Andy Hessenthaler told DAFCradio: “Brackley have a number of ex-professionals. We had them watched and even though they lost, they played some good football on Saturday. It should be a good competition.”
*BS*Sittingbourne Away – Tuesday, November 6 – 7.45pm
(If there is no FA Trophy replay against Brackley)*BF*
Sittingbourne do not currently have a manager, following the well-publicised departure of Steve Lovell to Ashford. Presumably the former Gillingham legend became disillusioned with seeing some of his best players leave the club and hopes that it will be a different scenario at Ashford.
The situation at Ashford in the past few days is extremely unfortunate and another embarrassment for their fans to bear. The “he-said, she said” manner of Clive Walker’s departure is damaging the reputations of all parties.
*Ppic2*Ironically for Lovell, he may have to watch his former club finish above him in the league table this season, unless Ashford are able to offload a few of their under performing summer signings.
As for the Sittingbourne game itself, no doubt the players who have represented both clubs (Lee Browning, Mark Lovell, Bradley Spice, James Hafner, Anthony Hogg and James Campbell) will be looking forward to locking horns. Browning is hoping to be fit for Dover, despite being expected to miss the Brackley game with a slight injury.
After being thumped 5-1 at home to Kingstonian three weeks ago, having been level at 1-1 with half an hour to go, Sittingbourne have won twice (against Eastbourne and Chatham) and lost at home to Dulwich. Never an easy place to go or play football, Whites’ ability to grind out a win in a Kent derby will be put to the test once again.