Whites set up a League Cup Final game with Ashford Town (Middlesex) after defeating Cray at Crabble. At 4-1 with three minutes to go, Dover looked to be coasting into the final, but two late goals and an injury time Darren Smith save had Whites’ fans hearts fluttering. Yet the side held on to secure the win, in a game that was marred by a terrible injury to Cray’s Matt Lee, and my best wishes go out to him for a full and speedy recovery.
Clive Walker clearly wants to win this trophy after coming so far in the competition, and that’s why he put out effectively his strongest side. The only change from Saturday came in goal, with Darren Smith given his chance to impress with Glen Knight rested. Danny Braithwaite was also fit enough to take a place amongst the substitutes after missing the last few games through injury.
Whites made a great start to the game, as they scored the opening goal with only three minutes played. James Rogers curled a corner in from the right, and Wilkins met it at the near post to send a glancing header past both the keeper and the defender on the line,
Good work by Tony Browne set up Jimmy Dryden for a chance on the edge of the area, but he sent his drive over the bar. Jimmy then turned provider, as he sent in a great cross from the right, but Anton Innocent put his header straight at keeper Grant Hall.
Jamie Wood tested Darren Smith with a fierce shot from a tight angle, but with 19 minutes played, the visitors were back on level terms. David Hall played a neat one-two just outside the area, and managed to flick the ball beyond Smith and into the net.
Within seven minutes however, Whites had re-taken the lead. Tyne’s cross to the back post found Dryden unmarked, and he headed the ball back across goal. Craig Cloke was on hand to slot the ball home, to give Dover the advantage going into the interval.
The second half started in rather tepid fashion, without a notable effort in goal in the opening nine and a half minutes. Then, as Cray’s Matt Lee cleared the ball from just outside the area, he collided with Dryden and collapsed in agony.
It looked a fairly innocuous challenge, with the noise of the collision attributed to a clash of shinpads. But it soon became apparent that the sound had been the defender’s leg breaking, and officials from both clubs rallied round to help the stricken player. Most of the players from both sides returned to the dressing room whilst they waited for the ambulance, and after a 30 minute interlude, play resumed.
Cray actually looked the more lively side immediately after the restart, but Whites took firm control of the game with just under twenty minutes left to play. Great passing by the side created a crossing opportunity for Innocent down the right, and his ball found Tyne unmarked in the six-yard box to steer the ball past Grant Hall.
And two minutes later the game looked to have been settled. Dryden supplied another peach of a cross from the left, and Innocent beat his marker to flick the ball into the net.
The game began to peter out, as the Whites fans sung songs about reaching the final. But there was almost a cruel twist late on. Danny Whelan touched the ball home from close range to reduce the deficit, and then Cray manager Ian Jenkins sent a free kick goalwards, that took a wicked deflection and the ball went into the opposite corner of the net.
And it almost got even worse in injury time. Colin Luckett fired a shot on goal, and Darren Smith was forced into a low save to prevent the game going into extra time. Thankfully soon afterwards the referee blew up, to send the Whites into the League Cup Final.
On the whole this was another good performance by Dover, and if they hadn’t switched off for the final few minutes then the margin of victory would have been very comfortable. The celebrations were of course tinged with sadness though, as thoughts turned to the injured Matt Lee, and hopefully he will be back played football soon. Although Whites fans have a cup final to look forward to, attention must now be re-focussed on the two important league games before the match with Ashford Town (Middlesex).
Referee: Rob Whitton Assistants: Rob Allum & Peter Georgiou
| Replay all the action from this game with
Live Text replay! |