*BS*Whites face the unusual task of playing two teams from the same town in the space of three days, one at home and one away, starting at Walton Casuals.*BF*
After Saturday’s away trip to Casuals, Walton & Hersham visit SeaFrance Crabble on Monday.
Walton & Hersham have been touted as one of the favourites for promotion this season while near-neighbours Walton Casuals were expected to fight against the drop.
Go back two weeks and that theory was alive and well. Casuals were bottom of the league and looking for their second win of the season, while Walton & Hersham were close behind the front runners with games in hand.
So you may be expecting the trip to Casuals to be the easier of the two matches. Well, perhaps not because the recent form of both clubs is quite the opposite. Casuals are in fact above Walton & Hersham in the form guide. W&H have won just once in the last six games, losing three on the spin in the past two weeks, whereas Casuals have lost only once in six games, drawing three and winning two.
*BS*Saturday 1 December – Walton Casuals
Franklyn Road Sports Ground – 3.00pm kick-off*BF*
Walton Casuals form could be attributed to their new manager. Kim Harris left the club in September and his former assistant Luke Dowling took over the reins. The young boss can count on the experience of John Morris, who ran a successful reserve team at AFC Wimbledon and knows the Ryman League scene well.
Casuals, currently lying 18th in the table, lost key forward Craig Carley in the summer to Met Police. However, they still have the quality of ex-Kingstonian striker Greg Ball and have also signed ex-Dulwich winger Jean-Serge Musungu and former Maidenhead forward Nana Badu to bolster their attacking options.
*Ppic1*It seems that Casuals are a stronger outfit on home turf at the moment but Whites will go into the game having won on both of their trips to the Franklyn Road Sports Ground in the past two seasons. Dover are used to visiting in March or April, however, so we shall see if the December weather makes any difference.
One similarity between Dover and Casuals is that both clubs are attempting ambitious clubhouse redevelopment plans for 2008. Walton Casuals are planning to replace their existing clubhouse with a long two-storey facility. They also hope to lay seven grass pitches for youth football by 2009.
*BS*DAFC Team News*BF*
Shaun Welford will return to the Dover squad, after missing the Sutton FA Trophy tie due to being cup-tied. The striker’s presence was missed in attack for Whites, particularly on Tuesday night at Gander Green Lane.
Alan Pouton picked up an ankle injury in the first half at Sutton and therefore may not start this weekend. The experienced midfielder still has a way to go fitness-wise so may be better utilised off the bench.
James Rogers and Hessenthaler filled the midfield role on Saturday and Tuesday respectively, the latter after Pouton had gone off. However, Hess may decide to return to the more attacking Lee Browning in an advanced midfield role. This would allow Welford to return up front alongside Jimmy Dryden and Frannie Collin.
In defence, Craig Wilkins has come in for Matt Bourne and “concrete head” put in an excellent performance on Tuesday evening. Whites’ defensive options have limited Liam Quinn to a substitutes role recently and Hessenthaler has decided to give the promising defender more games by loaning him out to struggling Whitstable. The Oystermen desperately need defensive reinforcements but were beaten on Quinn’s debut last Saturday 3-2 against Kingstonian.
John Keister picked up his fifth booking of the season on Tuesday – for certain, this time. However, I believe that the only game he will miss is the Kent Senior Cup tie at Princes Park, Dartford on Tuesday 11 December. If so, that would be a slice of good fortune with games against promotion chasing Worthing and Cray either side of the KSC tie.
Finally, Jimmy Dryden will be hoping to get back amongst the goals after failing to net against Sutton. This perhaps wasn’t a surprise though, as Whites’ top-scorer has only netted once in cup competitions this season. He has scored 12 times in the league. Jimmy would no doubt settle for a performance on Saturday similar to the one that earned him a brace at Walton Casuals last season.
*BS*Monday 3 December – Walton & Hersham
SeaFrance Crabble Stadium – 7.45pm kick-off*BF*
The Swans will visit Dover on Monday on the back of another trip to Kent this weekend against Ashford. It’s a big weekend for the club who are struggling for form and starting to drift down the table. Having been within eight points of top spot with several games in hand a couple of weeks ago, they now lie 11 points behind Whites with no games in hand.
Les Cleevely has put together a young side at Stompond Lane and the Swans have found goals hard to come by so far. Ex-Molesey hotshot Phil Ruggles recently signed so Cleevely will be hoping he can fire his team back up the table.
Walton & Hersham have struggled to gain points from their matches against the stronger Ryman South sides so far this term, losing to Tooting and Cray, drawing 2-2 with Kingstonian after leading 2-0 and losing to Worthing in the FA Trophy.
Dover will hope to continue that trend when we’re “at home with the Waltons” on Monday.