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Dover Athletic 5-1 Kingstonian

K's lost on the Kent coast today by a four goal margin which was more due to an injury on goalkeeper Steve Farrelly as much as any real bad play by the team as a whole. The starting line-up was less than ideal, with Leworthy mysteriously out with 'flu against his old club (again!) and Eddie reportedly "only able to play 20 minutes". In their places Ronaldo Dean Thomas was granted his first start in a league game and Lee Boylan continued his presence in the first team.

From the off-set Dover started the brighter of the two teams. Immediately Hynes put in a good shot following a ball squared to him from the right, and it only took three minutes for the Lilywhites' to go one goal to the good. Le Bihan took a corner on the right which Carruthers headed in from a central position within the six yard box.

But K's did their best to get back into the match and a sustained period of pressure lead to a series of corners to the yellows. Wayne Brown, wandering in the opposition's box won the first of these, and Ronaldo's Thomas' effort produced another. From this, Mark Harris got to the end of the Pitcher delivery and was only denied from a superb save by Mitten, who was sporting a lovely Seventies style goalkeeping jersey. But the pressure came to nothing and Mitten was almost able to claim an assist following a huge clear out from the 'keeper which Hynes ran onto and had a good shot, the rebound from which fell to Carruthers at whose feet Farrelly dived to retrieve possession.

It was clear that K's were missing Simon Stewart in the heart of the defence as clearly Wayne Brown was unable to deal with the threat posed by even Dover's strike force. Hynes' run past the fireman was one such example, as this was followed by a good shot despite Wayne's best attempts to give away a penalty. The best that K's could offer was a good header from Boylan on the end of a firmly hit Mustafa cross. Dover looked to have scored another when Storuts deftly lobbed Farrelly from only three yards out, but the linesman's flag had been raised for some time for an earlier foul on a K's defender. Two down at Dover would be unthinkable, surely? Well, the unthinkable soon became the thought as substitute Virgo got the second for the home team. A ball knocked square from the right saw Wormull cleverly dummy and allow the ball to travel into the path of Virgo who sweetly struck the ball home from some distance.

As is so often the case, Ks looked to try to get back into the game immediately after conceding a goal. In this instance a fine run by Geoff Pitcher saw him gain about thirty yards before unloading to Ronaldo Dean Thomas. The youngster was then brutally hacked down giving the visitors a free-kick just outside of the area and slightly to right of the D. Gary Patterson stepped up to take the free-kick from exactly the same position as his successful attempt on the previous Tuesday against Cobham. Pitcher and Luckett stood back to allow Patto to chance his arm and again and the result was outstanding. His left footed chip went over the four-man wall and nestled next to the right hand post as it bounced just over the goal line. It truly was a fine goal, one which even Dean Thomas Ronaldo would have been proud of, and that alone was worth the entrance money - it's a pity the rest of the team couldn't make up the coach fare.

As the half ended Dover could have gone two goals to the good again. Farrelly came for a cross and punched clear but fell as he did so. It is unclear whether this action injured him or whether he was previously injured, but clearly there was something wrong. As the ball was hoofed back into the mixer, the three K's centre backs were lined up on the six yard box ready to block any efforts. Harris stuck his leg out to block one such shot, and the follow up was fired over by Storuts.

As the teams came out for the second half, it seemed that Eddie's quota was going to double as he was put on in pace of Ronaldo Dean Thomas. This encouraged the travelling K's-ites but they were soon disheartened again at the site of Crossley taking the goal kicks, proving that Farrelly was in some way injured. This pill was harder to swallow as Jerome John was sitting on the bench but was unable to come on as he had not been named as a substitute. The pill was found to be bitter, with no spoon-fulls of sugar around, as Dover went two up again. Virgo out-sprinted (out-jogged?) Wayne Brown for the ball and fired it over from the left hand touch line. His deflected cross should have been no problem for the K's defence but Farrelly - definitely injured - was unable to come for the cross and left Carruthers with a free header which he was never going to waste.

The invitation for the weekly K's brawl was sent out just after this as a mad frenzy of "100%" tackles took place in the home team's half. Half a dozen bookable challenges by both sides went unpunished, and seemingly unnoticed, including the most clumsy of challenges by Wayne Brown. Eventually K's put in a shot from a Matt Crossley touch which unfortunately hit Brown and trickled out for a goal kick. Hopes, though distant, were still alive that perhaps K's could salvage a point from this game. Tarkan Mustafa sent Eddie on a run who played a great ball into the path of Willgrass but his shot, low and to the left, was well saved and lead to a corner. From this corner strong appeals for a penalty were made as a white shirt-sleeved arm denied Crossley from connecting with Pitcher's delivery. The appeals were predictably turned away as negative feelings toward the referee grew. Dover soon had their own penalty appeal for a possible foul in the area, but not before Farrelly had saved well from a long range shot by Clarke. Clearly the ref was in no mood to give penalties or any kind of controversial decision. Indeed, it seems strange that, up until that point, he had not decided to book anyone, despite some quite awful challenges at times.

Like the proverbial penny amongst a meeting of Mensa members , K's heads dropped with fifteen minutes to go. Carruthers found himself free on the left and his good low shot was struck to the right of Farrelly leaving him haplessly unable to get near it, and giving him his hat-trick. Again this goal could be attributed to Farrelly's injury, though it was indeed a good strike by the centre-forward. Salt was then rubbed into the open wounds as Hynes got the fifth, this time in no doubt due to Farrelly's injury. Carruthers sent the ball over from the left and with Farrelly immobile Hynes was able to knock the ball in from two yards into a gaping net. Dover could have socred a sixth when Clarke's good run saw him pass to Storuts who shot and missed the post by inches with Farrelly again beaten.

K's could have scored late consolation goals from Harris and Mustafa but didn't, and some Dover fans even began to appear happy. The referee's whistle was greeted more by K's fans who had now been put out of their misery than by the Dover contingent. A 5-1 score line hardly seems a fair one. Had Farrelly not been injured, or had Jerome been named as a sub, then things could have been different. But he didn't and he wasn't. And one shouldn't dwell on these things. What is clear is that the team which won 5-1 today were not in the same class as the Rushden team that beat K's earlier in the season, or the Cheltenham team that will beat K's later in the season. K's didn't play well, but did not play too badly either, and Patterson's wonder strike was worth five of Dover's goals anyday...

Mon 28th Dec 1998
The Crabble
Football Conference
Dover Athletic5
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett
4Matt Crossley
5Wayne Brown12
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Alex Willgrass
10Lee Boylan
11Dean Thomas15
12Scott Corbett5
14Danny Smith
15Eddie Akuamoah11
Man of the Match
Mark Harris
Mark Harris
Match Report By
Gary Ekins