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Dover and Out

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 26/02/2022

IT'S not often you get to go on a high-speed train to get to a game. It's not going to occur again soon either unless Ebbsfleet happen to get promoted, as today's opponents Dover are in a right mess.

The season was lost for them before it even started with the Covid points deduction, so I can't imagine what it's been like for their supporters, players and management. All credit to them for being able to keep going. Their ground The Crabble is one which I've never been to before, having missed out last time, although I do remember a home game against them in which a certain Stefan Payne was playing for them - hardly the greatest advert a football team can have. From our point of view, this is a game we must win if we're expecting to keep pace with the play-off teams. It's also a game we can't take for granted as although Dover have struggled for points, they also haven't been pushovers, and it looks like they have plenty of fighting spirit.

Town's team this afternoon was Crocombe - Efete, Pearson, Waterfall, Amos - Burgess, Raikhy - Sousa, McAtee, Clifton -- Abrahams. Mr Hurst's pre-match conference as ever focussed on those injured players who can't play, no thanks to the interviewer who must spend his life dreaming of injury lists and questions about them, but mention was made of the anagrammatic Dieseruvwe who signed last week. It was hardly a flattering introduction, the impression being given that as we didn't have Taylor, Abrahams or John-Lewis, then he had to sign someone. Hopefully, our new striker will contribute something over and above just making up the numbers. The man of letters was on the bench today and provided a nice challenge for the Dover stadium announcer when revealing the teams.

Town wore red today. Dover are "The Whites", so no prizes for guessing that one. If it were Town, they'd have a survey. Maybe the Solemates, the Channelhoppers or, in honour of their ground, the Crabblerousers? Surrounded by trees, the ground itself is a ramshackle affair with strategically placed posts to prevent clear views of the goal but not unusual in this respect. Never mind the Stadium of Dreams. This is the Stadium of Pillars. Old fashioned values applied: £15 for people of my age to get in, and if I'd wanted to £1 inside the ground to transfer to a seat with the statutory poor view but this time through a mesh fence.

A typically surging run from Efete on 3 minutes was stopped when he ran into traffic, but Abrahams picked up the ball and was fouled. Sousa's free-kick was poor. Nothing much happened in the first few minutes. Dover had the first clear chance on 9 minutes when Arthur shot low from outside the box. The unsighted Crocombe did well to get down and push the ball away for a corner. Dithering in midfield then led to a Dover break. Gyasi went clear and with only Crocombe to beat, inexplicably missed. Sousa then caused problems for Dover's defence, first crossing too high and then crossing low but no-one was on hand to connect. Clifton had a snap shot on 18 minutes but this was frantic uncoordinated fare. Dover looked sharp when they attacked bit so far had been unable to finish. Abrahams did well to turn a defender on about 20 minutes and got a shot in but it was deflected for a corner. On 27 minutes the lively Sousa set up another attack, passing to Clifton who raced on but was blocked by a defender. Amos's free-kick found Waterfall whose header was cleared for a corner. Perfect delivery from Amos was met with a Pearson header: 1 - 0 to Town. Town now played the ball around. When Dover attacked, Town closed ranks. Town were expressing their superiority. Burgess started a move, switched it to the right and almost received the return to tap in but Dover goalkeeper Parkes was there first. Dover did have a great chance on 37 minutes but Woods fluffed his lines, blasting over from close range after a misplaced Pearson header. Then on 39 minutes, a long ball from Town's defence found Abrahams in space on the right. Seeing his opportunity from distance Abrahams deftly lobbed Parkes who was of his line to make it 2 - 0 for Town. Soon after Dover attacked and where so far they had missed golden opportunities, this time the ball came over from the left and using his physical strength Goodman messily bundled the ball over the line to make it 2 - 1. Town won a free-kick on the edge of Dover's penalty box but McAtee fired his attempt straight at Parkes. Sousa continued to do good work, first having a run but he leant back and his shot went well over the bar. Then he found space and supplied Burgess whose volley went just wide. Too many chances had gone begging in this half and it was disappointing that Dover were allowed back in the game after Town started to look dominant.

A darting run from Gyasi earned Dover a corner soon in the second half before Pavey tried a Beckham style lob from midfield. Crocombe then did well to get out quickly and foil Gyasi who had been sent clear. Town launched a quick attack on 53 minutes when Sousa put in a low cross but neither Abrahams nor Clifton could get a toe on it. Waterfall then had a run and scuffed a shot before running back and hauling down a Dover player and getting booked. On 57 minutes Raikhy injured himself after a poor touch a stretching for the ball. He was unable to continue and was replaced by Coke. Coke immediately made an impact, winning possession and finding Abrahams whose attempted curler struck a defender's leg. Wilkinson had a shot for Dover. This wasn't comfortable for Town, who seemed to have switched off and were unable to put together any meaningful moves. On 65 minutes Dieseruvwe replaced the impressive Abrahams. Five minutes later Town attacked in numbers. The ball came across to the unchallenged Burgess who carelessly sliced his shot wide. On 72 minutes a great interception at the back started a move. Town's players swept forward. Clifton ran up the middle, laying off to the advancing McAtee who calmly slotted his shot past Parkes. Dover 1, Town 3. Dover had the occasional attack but looked tired, as Town now worked the ball upfield. Sousa played a clever one-two with Clifton but was unable to chip Parkes. The industrious Sousa had another run and shot which went wide before a three-way move between Sousa, McAtee and Dieseruvwe almost paid dividends. The dangerous Dieseruvwe was booked for a challenge on a defender when scrapping for the ball. Dover had a header which Crocombe tipped over on 85 minutes but from the clearance McAtee went on a run, finding Sousa who once again fired high and wide. It had become like target practice. Smith replaced Amos on 90 minutes but the result was sealed by now. A Coke interception started a move, and McAtee fired a shot wide from a tight angle but in spite of all the missed chances, it didn't cost Town who were well on top. So it ended: Dover Athletic 1, Grimsby Town 3.

This wasn't a match of great quality, and the finishing was particularly poor but Town did enough and were the better side by far today. Individually Sousa and Abrahams were lively and caused threats, Coke was influential and Dieseruvwe looked sharp after coming on. Crocombe continues to look confident and Amos's crossing is a great asset but overall we gave too much ball away and allowed Dover too many chances with poor marking and distribution. But it didn't matter ultimately. Dover have had it. Town are still in the hunt for the much-coveted 7th place and the play-offs.

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