Whites went into this game needing only a point to confirm their place in the play-offs, and this emphatic win ensured that Dartford could not take that top-five finish from them. Five second half goals gave us the victory, and coupled with Maidstone drawing with Ashford, the league title is still possible too, depending on results on Saturday.
Clive Walker was once again able to field an unchanged starting eleven, though there were changes on the bench. Jack Tanner and Shane Hamshare made way for Anton Innocent after his holiday, and Daniel Braithwaite.
Whites dominated possession from the outset, and the first opportunity of the game fell to Byron Walker. He was put through on goal by Tommy Tyne, but the youngster’s shot rolled just wide of the post.
Wilkins headed a Rogers corner over, before the main talking point of the half came just after the half-hour mark. Tyne’s flick on from a long goalkick sent Dryden clean-through on goal, but he was clinically taken down by Harry Holloway. How the referee failed to award a penalty and sending off I really do not know.
After Jamie Byatt blazed the hosts’ first chance well wide, Tyne and Dryden both tested Casuals keeper Colin Harris from just outside the box, but neither could make the breakthrough. In first half injury time, Andre McCollin poked a good opening wide for Corinthian, before Cloke headed a Wallis free kick over, but half time came with the sides still level.
Thankfully, within four minutes of the restart, Whites took the lead that they never looked like relinquishing. After substitute Matt Smith had fouled James Rogers just outside the area, Jon Wallis stepped up to take the free kick. After a quick one-two with Tyne, Jon fired the ball into the top corner.
And Dover took a firm grip on the game two minutes later. Dryden put Tyne through on goal, and he calmly rounded the keeper before slotting the ball past the defender on the line.
Byron Walker had one effort blocked by Harry Holloway, and then fired another chance wide as he tried to get on the scoresheet, but soon the Whites did get their third. And it came from an unlikely source, as Tony Browne collected the ball at the far post following a bursting run from Wallis. Jon’s cutback was sliced at by Tony, but thankfully it still landed just in front of him and he fired into the net at the second time of asking for only his fourth goal for the club since he joined us 8 years ago. Cue chants of ‘Browney’s got a nosebleed’ such was the surprise at seeing the right back in the opposition penalty box!
With twenty minutes still to play, Dover got their fourth. Again it came following a Wallis cutback from the byline, and although Dryden looked to knock the ball goalwards from inside the six-yard box, the final touch into the net came from the Corinthian defender on the line.
Lye and Innocent came on as Cloke and Spiller were rested for Saturday, but the goals kept coming. This time it came from the boot of Walker, as he won the ball down the right and then cut inside and fired past Colin Harris. It was a fantastic few seconds, because just as Byron was about to shoot the cry came out that Ashford had equalised against Maidstone, and suddenly the title that looked well beyond us a few weeks back was going to go down to the final game.
We knew it would have to go down to goal difference for that to happen, and Glen Knight did his bit to keep the Whites on track for a clean sheet. Casuals’ Danny Green stepped round a defender on the edge of the area, and unleashed a fierce shot that Glen did superbly well to tip over the bar.
Spice replaced Dryden for the final few minutes, but it was another substitute that went within an ace of adding to the lead. Lye fired over with an open goal gaping following good interplay between Wallis and Tyne, and then Danny had a shot pushed away by the keeper in the final minute. Soon afterwards Whites fans and players were able to celebrate what had been a great night at the office.
Dover did exactly the same as last year, scoring five second-half goals without reply after a goalless first 45 minutes, and this now sets it up nicely for Saturday. The title is still unlikely, but all we can do is aim to win our game and then see what goes on elsewhere.
Referee: Mr. N. A. Lugg Assistants: Mr. R. C. Albert & Mr. J. D. Garratt
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