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Dover Athletic 1-2 Kingstonian

Kingstonian moved off the bottom of the Ryman Premier with a hard-fought win against fellow strugglers Dover. The two former Conference sides produced an entertaining game in front of a large crowd but a late flurry from the Kent side was not sufficient to deny Kingstonian three well-earned points.

With Phil Ruggles, Martyn Lee and Mazin Ahmad all left on the bench, Scott Steele's team sheet left many K's fans scratching their heads. By the end of the game though they were chanting the manager's name as his players celebrated a vital win.

The opening minutes saw a flurry of action at both ends, giving a strong indication of how open the game was to be. An early foul on skipper Giles Coke forced veteran Dover goalkeeper Paul Hyde to save well from a Steele free kick. A minute later though miscommunication between Richard Taylor and Rob Paris saw Dover forward Paul Armstrong facing Nick Hart one-on-one. Fortunately for the visitors, it was the goalkeeper who came out on top producing a fine save.

Two minutes later Hyde made another good save, blocking a Kenny Ojukwa shot at the near post. From the resulting corner, taken by Steele, Jamie Palmer rose highest to head past Hyde and Daniel Braithwaite was unable to keep the ball out of the net. However, young match official R. Bone decided there had been an infringement and the goal was disallowed. The ball quickly went to the other end where Hart saved well from Victor Renner's drive.

On twelve minutes K's came close again. Dover left three men unmarked at the far post for another Steele corner, and Hyde was forced to athletically save James Rose's downward header. The teenage striker tried to blast the rebound home from close range, but Braithwaite cleared off the line.

After the frantic beginning, the game then went rather quiet until Ojukwa gave K's the lead on 23 minutes. After Coke met a Steele corner with a good glancing header, Gavin Rose did well to keep the ball out. However, the clearance went along the goal-line and Ojukwa out-jumped Braithwaite to head home from two yards out.

Dover sought an equaliser as first Renner and then Nick Grime came close with headers either side of the half-hour mark. K's remained a threat on the counter-attack though and after Ojukwa found Steele on 35 minutes, Braithwaite once more had to clear off the line. Palmer hooked the rebound forward to James Rose, whose looping header was tipped over by Hyde. It was a good save but no-one was more impressed by it than the applauding Mr. Bone.

Shortly after half-time Paul Armstrong had the ball in the K's net, but it was ruled out due to offside. Five minutes later the Whites came close again when Stuart Maynard lobbed Hart only to see his effort land on the top of the crossbar. Palmer was replaced by Luke Muldowney, also on loan from Brentford, but Dover still looked the more likely to score.

Braithwaite hit a vicious shot from the left wing that Hart did well to tip onto the bar. In the face of such pressure from Dover, K's second goal could not have come at a better time. Ojukwa sprinted down the right flank and aimed his cross at the near post where Craig Cloke beat Rose to win the header. The ball only went as far as Giles Coke on the edge of the box, though, and he took his time before hitting a perfect drive inside Hyde's near post.

To their credit, Dover kept the pressure up and a vicious 30-yard outswinger from Jude Sterling forced an excellent low save from Hart. On 78 minutes though another counter-attack should have seen K's put the game beyond doubt. Ojukwa played Coke in on goal and he squared the ball back to the striker, presenting him with a half-open goal. Ojukwa rather conservatively aimed for the middle of the goal and Hyde made an excellent recovery to keep the ball out of the net. Two minutes later K's were really left to rue the missed chance as Coke was dispossessed by Craig Rose and he set Dean Palmer up for an easy one-on-one finish.

K's spent the last ten minutes under heavy pressure but Dover could not find a breakthrough. The best chance fell to Sterling, but Hart made a superb reflex save from his low close-range drive. Mr. Bone played an amazing seven minutes of stoppage time, highlighted by his own linesman correcting his interpretation of the rules following his attempt to give a K's throw-in to Dover after booking Dave Timothy for time-wasting, but K's kept the ball for the majority of the period and went home with three vital points.

Despite becoming wobbly in the last ten minutes, overall it was a very good performance from Kingstonian. Bashiru Alimi defended superbly, Ojukwa had a fantastic game, James Rose and Palmer both did well while Hart had undoubtedly his best performance in a K's shirt. After a couple of quiet games Giles Coke was right back on form, running the midfield in the first half particularly.

K's are now off the bottom the league, and while the task of avoiding relegation will not be an easy one, they at least still have a hope. As for Dover, they will now be going into a new era - before K's significant travelling contingent had even made their way home, struggling manager Steve Browne had been relieved of his duties.

Sat 15th Jan 2005
The Crabble
Isthmian League Premier
Dover Athletic1
Ojukwa, Coke G
1Nick Hart
2Lewis Hamilton
3Bashiru Alimi
4Richard Taylor
5Robert Paris
6Giles Coke
7Dave TimothyCautioned
8Jamie Palmer17
9Kenny OjukwaCautioned
10Scott Steele12
11James RoseCautioned16
12Martyn Lee10
14Steven Sanders
15Mazin Ahmad
16Phil Ruggles11
17Luke Muldowney8
Match Report By
Simon Grier