*BS*Football cliches are bound to reverberate around Crabble before kick-off tomorrow, as Whites face a potential ‘banana skin’ FA Cup tie against Alton.*BF*
Athletic’s short history is littered with cup upsets so Crabbleites have learned not to take any team for granted in cup football.
A mature performance against Bracknell in the preliminary round would suggest the management and players at the club are learning from past mistakes, giving them confidence to aim for a re-run of Whites’ unforgettable FA Cup exploits of 2002.
However, in 2002 Dover entered the competition at the second qualifying round stage. It took only three wins to set-up the memorable meeting with Oxford United in the first round proper. Saturday’s clash with Alton is in the first qualifying round so a lot of hard work lays ahead before hitting the same heights.
Manager Clive Walker masterminded the 2002 cup run in his previous spell in charge but also witnessed some of the low moments as assistant-manager and is aware of the strain placed on players with so many cup games.
Clive said: “We could have done without extra-time on Tuesday going into another cup game. Most of the lads came through it well though.
“Alton have got through two rounds of the cup so we’ve got to treat them with the greatest of respect.”
The club has a busy run of cup games at present, with League and County Cup matches to contend with. However, the depth of quality in Whites’ squad allows Clive to use the minor cup games to build fitness in the fringe players or those returning from injuries.
Tuesday night at Chatham in the Westview (League) Cup was one such opportunity. Ryman Premier side Ramsgate may pose a bigger problem in the next round when Whites travel to Southwood Stadium, the Rams having dispatched local rivals Margate on Tuesday.
Talented reserves Liam Quinn and Jack Tanner were given an opportunity to shine, with the former winning the plaudits of fans for his drive from midfield and positive attitude.
One player rested on Tuesday was new fans favourite Byron Walker. The speedy winger/forward did not have to face his old club but will get the chance to do so next Tuesday in the league match at Maidstone Road.
Byron, nicknamed ‘Bye-Byes’ by Craig Cloke due to his speed overtaking full-backs, is concentrating on Alton first though and making sure he keeps his place in the starting eleven.
Byron said: “The FA Cup is another big game for us. I’ve still got a lot more to prove and Clive is always pushing me in training and telling me how to improve my game. Spills, Keister and Chappy are helping me during games too.”
The young livewire is also hoping to produce more of an end-product consistently: “Goals are something I need to get more of and assists, to cement my place in the team. I’m working hard on my strength and delivery into the box.”
*BS*SUPPORT THE WHITES!*BF*
Dover Athletic vs Alton Town
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round
Saturday 16 September – 3.00pm