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Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Dover Athletic

Cloke (44) (penalty)

(0) 0

(1) 1




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Anthony Maguire


 Aldershot Town (H) 3.4.04

The Pitmen's unfathomable inconsistency in league action continues this evening as Dover Athletic complete a league double over the hosts, just three days after Barry Powell's men had beaten Conference high-flyers Aldershot in the F.A. Trophy Semi-Final 1st Leg

Powell's troops arrived back at Keys Park following two fine wins on the road over Cambridge City and the aforementioned Aldershot in the past fortnight and were confident in making it three wins in a row against a Dover side they had beaten on the same turf in the F.A. Trophy just over five weeks ago. The Hednesford manager was without Alex Gibson and Stuart Ryder (injured) and Steve Palmer (suspended), but could call upon two new signings to add to his numbers for tonight's encounter. Youngster Ross Adams - a recent signing from West Bromwich Albion - came straight into the side to partner Chris Brindley at centre-back as Ryder's replacement, whilst former Walsall striker Karl Hawley was named amongst the substitutes after joining the club following his release at Bescot Stadium

Dover's second jaunt up to South Staffordshire saw the Lilywhites in poor current form in the Dr. Martens League, with the new management team of Richard Langley and Mark Patterson without a league win in their past five games to leave the Crabble side sitting in fourteenth position ahead of play, five points ahead of the Pitmen with the race for the top thirteen hotting up amongst the sides in mid-table. Langley and Patterson made one change to the side that had lost at home to Cambridge City at the weekend, bringing Danny Chapman back into the team after injury to replace Dale Skelton in midfield

Loanee Jordan King - making his home debut after his previous two appearances for the club had come at Cambridge and Aldershot - fired narrowly over the crossbar inside the first minute of the game as he picked up a pass from Anthony Maguire and tried his luck from twenty yards out


Maguire himself thought he had added to his fantastic strike against Aldershot in the eighth minute, turning a Carl Palmer pass home from close range after getting in behind the Dover defence. However, an offside flag against the youngster ruled out the goal and denied Maguire the evening's opener in the process

Adams' first real contribution to his new side came in the thirteenth minute as he made a smart block with his right boot to make a timely tackle and deny Matt Carruthers a clear shot at goal from fifteen yards out

Maguire was influential in the Pitmen's opening quarter of the game and went close once more in the nineteenth minute with a well-struck free-kick that drifted inches wide of Paul Hyde's right-hand post after Carl Palmer had been floored by Tom Hickman

Dover had set up to play the Pitmen on the counter-attack in a very typical away team style seen at Keys Park this season; keep the game tight and catch the hosts wherever possible seemed to be the mantra of the away side throughout the first period. A quick break from Danny Chapman saw him slip past Palmer and play the ball out to Simon Glover in the twenty-third minute, with the forward stepping past Darren Simkin before striking a rising shot over the crossbar

Chris Brindley - imperious in the backs-to-the-wall win over Aldershot at the weekend - flashed a header wide of goal for the home side five minutes later, leaping to meet a Les Hines corner kick but nodding just wide of the upright of post and crossbar

Mark Danks was next to threaten for the hosts on thirty-three minutes, chasing onto a through ball from King and striking a first-time shot from the edge of the Dover penalty area that flew just over the crossbar

A loose back pass from Hines four minutes later almost presented Dover with a chance as Glover pounced on a slightly short pass from the left-back but stumbled on the edge of the penalty area and allowed Adams to get across and clear the ball to save Hines any embarrassment

The Pitmen were stunned a minute before half-time as Dover were awarded a dubious penalty as Young was penalised for an alleged push on Hickman in his own six-yard box as the pair challenged for a corner kick. Craig Cloke took the resultant spot-kick and fired confidently past Young to hand Dover the lead against the run of play at the half-time break

The Pitmen were forceful in their approach at the start of the second half, pushing forwards as they looked for an immediate reply during the early stages of the second period. Brindley saw an early goalbound effort deflected around the post by Tony Browne just two minutes after the restart following a Hines corner kick that had dropped to the centre-back from close range

Four minutes later, another ball into the box - this time from Simkin - dropped at the feet of King, who was lurking just outside the Dover penalty area. The youngster's first-time drive along the ground hit the leg of Cloke and drifted just wide of the post


Three minutes later, Charie was played through on goal by an incisive pass from Adams, having an impressive debut for the Pitmen at centre-back. The young forward was unable to control the ball as he got it caught under his feet and allowed Chapman to get back into position and clear the ball


Powell made a double change on sixty-five minutes as he brought Steve Piearce on for Charie up front and swapped the under-performing Danks for new signing Hawley

Dover continued to play on the counter attack, but found Brindley and Adams a tough nut to crack as they found chances hard to come by in the second half. Carruthers hit a firm shot at goal from fully thirty yards on sixty-nine minutes but struck his effort well wide of Young's goal

A succession of corners from Hines threatened for the hosts on seventy-four minutes, delivering three excellent balls into the Dover six-yard box that the visitors desperately had to deal with inside their own six-yard box. Simkin ghosted in at the far post to meet a fourth corner from Hines and headed downwards from tight angle but only managed to head into the side netting

Maguire's game was brought to an end on seventy-eight minutes as he was replaced by Steve Evans down the right wing after his bright first half showing had been replaced by a quieter second half outing

Piearce did well to get the better of player/joint manager Patterson's attentions on eighty-three minutes, skipping past the former Gillingham man's challenge before dragging his low shot horribly wide of goal from a promising position

Hawley's chance to impress his new club came late on in the game as the hosts pushed hard of a leveller. On eighty-eight minutes, he was handed a free header just six yards out from a Steve Evans cross, only to head weakly into the arms of Hyde when it seemed easier to score from close range


In the first minute of added time, Hawley was played in on goal by the anonymous Steve Anthrobus but pulled his low shot across the face of Hyde's goal and just wide of the far post

It had been ninety minutes that had perfectly summed up the Pitmen's league season to date - dominating possession, creating good chances throughout, only to fluff their lines offensively and allow the opposition to steal the points courtesy of an individual error. It was certainly not the ideal preparation for Saturday's big semi-final second leg against Aldershot at Keys Park, with the Pitmen still marooned in nineteenth position in the league table and now facing the reality of relegation to step three unless they can produce a barnstorming run of form in the final month of the season, against a number of teams fighting for the same goal of a top thirteen finish

Hednesford Town: Young, Simkin ©, Hines, Maguire (S. Evans 78), Brindley, AdamsC. Palmer, KingCharie (Piearce 65), Anthrobus, Danks (Hawley 65)        Subs Unused: Dean, P. Evans

Dover Athletic: Hyde ©, Browne, Hickman, Patterson (Bone 70), Cloke, Chapman, Day (Miller 71), Spiller, Wilkins, Carruthers, Glover       Subs Unused: Skelton, Rogers, Wietecha

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