Matchday Preview: Dover Athletic (home)

If Yeovil Town manager Darren Sarll doesn’t believe in runs of form, his Dover Athletic counterparts will be hoping they’re equally a myth.

However, if this weekend’s visitors to Huish Park are on a run – it’s a stinker. Six defeats on the trot and ten losses in their last 11 with only a draw at home to Yate Town in the FA Cup to punctuate that.

Dover are yet to win a match this season but have picked up their three National League points from some creditable sources with goalless draws at home to Chesterfield and Solihull Moors – plus a 1-1 draw at W*ymouth.

The latest defeat came with a 3-2 loss at home to fellow part-timers Wealdstone in midweek, where they pulled the game back level on two occasions only to go down to a second half winner from Jayden Sweeney.

Assistant manager Nicky Southall said: “It’s pretty much the story of our season, isn’t it? I feel really proud of the boys with the way they created a lot of chances. It’s probably the best football we have played in a while.

“But our Achilles heel, making mistakes at the back, has cost us again. It just keeps happening.

“For some reason, there is a lapse of concentration somewhere within us within the 90 minutes and we just seem to be letting goals in at that stage, especially when we are on top.”

The season could not have started much tougher for Southall and manager Andy Hessenthaler having begun on minus 12 points for failing to fulfil their fixtures last season when the National League was played behind closed doors.

As a result, they find themselves 22 points off Aldershot Town who occupy the final place of safety above the drop zone.

On Friday, the Whites brought in former striker Alfie Pavey on a one-month loan from National League South side Maidstone United, where he has been unable to get a start since joining from Barnet in the summer.

The 26-year-old is well remembered at Crabble after scoring 12 times in 38 appearances in his previous spell at the club in 2018-19.

Top scorer with four goals is Aaron Cosgrave, on loan from League One side AFC Wimbledon, followed by former Birmingham City midfielder Koby Arthur, who has three goals.

Former Port Vale man Ben Williamson is an experienced head in an otherwise inexperienced side. He has two goals.


FROM THE (ASSISTANT) MANAGER

Dover Athletic assistant manager Nicky Southall has cast a misty-eyed look back to 2019 when a goal from defender Scott Doe earned the Whites a win in front of the BT cameras at Huish Park.

Asked about this weekend’s  trip to Somerset after a 3-2 defeat to fellow part-timers Wealdstone on Tuesday night, the former Nottingham Forest midfielder player said: “They are a good team. They used to be a Championship team. We went there a few years ago live on TV and beat them.

“We have just got to be positive and, fingers crossed, we can get that first win.”


TEAM NEWS

Former Glover Seth Nana Ofori-Twumasi sat out the midweek defeat to Wealdstone with a knee injury and will be hoping to be fit for a return to Huish Park.

Striker Ricky Miller (calf) and player-coach Reda Johnson(thigh), the former Sheffield Wednesday centre half, are doubts having been on the treatment table this week.

Midfielder Koby Arthur came off the substitutes’ bench at half-time in that fixture after suffering from a calf strain and should be available for the weekend.

Dover will also need to decide whether to stick with Josh Bexon, who came back into the side for the Wealdstone game, or recall on-loan Watford goalkeeper Adam Parkes.


A FOOT IN BOTH CAMPS

Seth Nana Ofori-Twumasi is touch and go, see above ‘Team News’, to be 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.


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