Defeat at home to Yeovil Town this weekend will spell relegation out of the National League for Dover Athletic with more the a quarter of the season to go.
They can actually still win the match if Aldershot Town beat fellow relegation strugglers King’s Lynn Town on Saturday..
Should results go against the Kent side – and given our current form, that is far from a given – then it brings about what has been fairly inevitable since the opening day of the season.
Having failed to fulfil their fixtures last season, the Whites started on minus 12 points and, heading in to the weekend, they still sit on minus four having picked up five draws – including one at Huish Park back at the end of November.
Their only win of the season in any competition came at home to Eastleigh at the end of January.
Manager Andy Hessenthaler admits they have been fighting a losing battle, he told Kent Online: “It’s been coming and it’s a shame but before we even kicked a ball it was always going to be tough because we’ve got the smallest budget in this league.
“It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the sides down the bottom of the table, not just Dover, are the ones with the smaller budgets.
“It was always going to be a mountain to climb and deep down maybe we knew that this day would come (when we started).
“Of course, we want to be in the top flight of non-league but next season Dover will be in a league that we can compete in financially.”
Top scorer Alfie Pavey is on loan from Kent rivals Maidstone United and has five goals to his name which is only one fewer than Yeovil Town’s top scorers (no, not Joe Quigley) Charlie Wakefield and Adi Yussuf with six each (or four if you’re Adi).
FROM THE MANAGER
Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler has blooded some products from the Crabble academy this season and says this is something he will continue to do for the rest of the season.
He told Kent Online: “The kids are showing how good they are and we’ve got to try and promote them.
“Hopefully the fans recognise that and come to support them, watch them play and see how good they are.
“We’re focusing on that to the end of the season. Will Moses had his first start in over a year, played out of position in midfield and did very well. George Wilkinson also started and Luke Baptiste and Harrison Byford came on.
“We’ve still got to have the experienced players in the team, even though they are quite young themselves in most cases with the average age of 21!
“We can’t throw too many of them in (at once) but it’s nice that they are handling themselves well at this level of football.
Striker TJ Bramble, who scored the second minute goal for Dover at Huish Park back in November, missed the trip to FC Halifax Town last weekend with a back injury.
He was joined on the injury lies by wingers Marshall Wratten (hamstring) and James Caton (both hamstring), and teenage striker Noah Carney (foot), who was called up by England Schoolboys’ earlier this year.
All four are facing a battle to be fit for the visit of the Glovers, but certain to be missing are Yeovil old boy Seth Twumasi (knee), captain Ryan Hanson (ankle), defender Alex Green (ankle), and winger Travis Gregory (knee).
Player-coach Reda Johnson, who has played more than 150 Football League games for clubs including Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry City, is available having been unavailable since November.
A FOOT IN BOTH CAMPS
Seth Nana Ofori-Twumasi seems certain to be out of the match to face his old employers, see ‘Team News’ above, and the only member of either playing squad with a foot in both camps.
The 31-year-old arrived at Huish Park at the start of our season in the Championship making just three appearances towards the back end of the season.
But, despite a red card in a League Cup defeat at home to Gillingham at the start of the following season, he went on to make 30 appearances before being released and turning up at Newport County.
The Ghanaian arrived at Crabble in July following his release by Maidenhead United and has made 11 appearances this season.
Other players with connections in Somerset and Kent include Mitch Brundle (is there anyone he’s not played for?!) who began his career at Huish Park and had a two-year spell at Dover between 2017-19, and Ryan Bird, the striker who scored eight times in 36 appearances for Yeovil in 2015-16 and was more prolific at Dover with 20 in 48 appearances between 2017-18.
Colin Miles/Pluck was one of Gary Johnson’s first signings at Huish Park following his departure from Crabble in the summer of 2001 and went on to play more than 150 times in green-and-white as a legendary whole-hearted centre half.
Steve Browne was part of Graham Roberts’ side which earned promotion back to the Conference in 19797 and went on to manage Dover in the 2004-05 season. Steve, who sadly died after a battle with bowel cancer in 2017 aged just 52, is the father of another former Glover, Rhys, now a player at Wealdstone.
Midfielder Gareth Risbridger was a graduate of the Yeovil Town youth set up in 1998 before he followed manager David Webb to Southend United, where he was sent on a three-game loan spell at Dover in 2001.
Jeez, there’s more of these than you think, here’s a few more:
- Carl Alford (Dover Athletic – loan – 1998, Yeovil Town 2001-2002)
- Oscar Gobern (Yeovil Town – 2017-18, Dover Athletic – 2019-2021)
- Terrell Forbes (Yeovil Town – 2006-2010, Dover Athletic – 2013-14)
- Keanu Marsh-Brown (Yeovil Town – 2012-13, Dover Athletic – loan – 2018)
- Michael Woods (Yeovil Town – 2012, Dover Athletic – 2019-2020)
Finally, Jerahl Hughes – anyone? I’m going to file him under ‘really don’t remember him’, but apparently he made two substitute appearances for us in the 2007-08 campaign before going on to play 52 times for Dover in the next season.