*BS*Whites host third placed Chelmsford City on Saturday at Perrys Crabble as both clubs try to keep in touch with the league leaders in Blue Square Bet South.*BF*
The Clarets are missing two key players through suspension but will arrive in high spirits after a 3-0 FA Cup win at Bromley on Tuesday in a replay.
Dover should be at full strength this weekend with no suspensions or injuries, and winger Sam Long is expected to return from a short spell on the sidelines.
Last season both clubs qualified for the play-offs but met the same fate, losing on aggregate in the semi finals. Chelmsford have started well this season and boast a 100% home record, but on their travels they have lost at Welling and Braintree.
Dover’s early home struggles have eased somewhat in recent weeks but this game is their biggest test at Perrys Crabble since the 1-0 loss against Eastleigh.
Chelmsford play more football than Eastleigh, but also have a physical element to their squad. Captain Dave Rainford is powerhouse in midfield and a deadly penalty taker. The 31 year-old will need to be tamed by Whites’ central midfield pairing.*Lpic1*
Clarets boss Glenn Pennyfather will be forced to shuffle his pack this weekend though, as first choice pair Sami El-Abd and Anthony Cook are suspended for a straight red and five bookings respectively.
22 year-old El-Abd joined Chelmsford in the summer after spells at Crawley, Hayes & Yeading and Team Bath, the latter during his time at University. The big centre back has formed a strong partnership with another new boy Adam Tann, who made 121 Football League appearances for Cambridge United.
Tann’s professional career was halted during his time at Notts County when he suffered a serious injury. The 28 year-old had already fought back from testicular cancer in 2006, returning to Leyton Orient in 2007 after a successful operation and recovery.
Former Dagenham winger Anthony Cook has received five yellow cards this season so misses Saturday’s match. Both he and teammate Ricky Modeste featured in Sky One’s reality TV show, Football Icon, at the start of their careers.
Danger men for Martin Hayes’ side to keep a keen eye on are Sam Higgins and Rob Edmans. The former is another new signing, having scored lots of goals in non-league for Bishop’s Stortford and most recently East Thurrock.
Edmans has been restricted to a substitute role this season but, as he showed against Whites at the Melbourne Stadium last season, he is a real handful for even the tallest and strongest of defenders. Unorthodox in style but potentially very effective.
*BS*What a difference a year makes…*BF*
Back in August 2009, Whites secured a 1-1 draw at Chelmsford in a game of two halves. Having had the better of the first period, going into the lead through an Olly Schulz header, Chelmsford got back into the game with a dubious penalty and could have snatches a late winner. The aforementioned Edmans was denied by the assistant referee’s flag.
Incredibly, out of the Dover 16 man squad that night only four are still at the club. Lee Hook, Dean Hill, Olly Schulz and Adam Birchall. Matt Fish and Jon Wallis were injured.
Chelmsford’s revolving door has been almost as well oiled, with only 6 of their matchday squad last August still on their books.
The outcome of this match will be an interesting barometer for Whites’ progress this season and their home form. Whites need to stamp a bit more authority on the visitors if they are to keep their play-off spot going into the winter months.
The growing confidence of Elliott Charles is bearing fruit in front of goal and in his partnership with Adam Birchall. The gangly forward created two goals last weekend against Cambridge City.
If Ben Hunt can stay fit, Martin Hayes will have a real dilemma as to his front two in the coming weeks. Hunt has shown his quality in the box and ability to link up well with Birchall, while new signing Jason Norville has the experience and talent to push for a starting spot if he can also keep off the treatment table.
If mathematical patterns are your thing, Saturday’s game should finish with three goals scored. 5-1 (6), 3-2 (5) and 3-1 (4) is the pattern of the last three matches so who fancies a flutter on three this weekend? That would at least ensure one thing, a positive result for one of the two sides.
In what is likely to be a tight and competitive affair, the match will probably be decided on the quality shown in both penalty areas. A decisive finish here or a significant mistake there could be the difference.
*BS*DOVER ATHLETIC vs CHELMSFORD CITY*BF*
Saturday 16 October at Perrys Crabble: 3.00pm
Blue Square Bet South – Fourth vs Third