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Kingstonian 0-0 Dover Athletic
Hyde the Key

An encouraging display from K's ended in frustration against strugglers Dover. The two former Conference sides, who have both been blighted by recent off-the-field problems, were unable to find a goal on a windy night at Kingsmeadow.

With the strong breeze behind them K's were impressive throughout the first half. They asserted their authority almost immediately as Matt Bradford robbed Dover's lone striker Shaun Welford with a crunching tackle. K's were threatening the Whites' goal within four minutes, when a Frazer Muscat long ball found Elliot Onochie. The recent signing from Tooting crossed low and Tom Hickman did well to clear.

In the eighth and eleventh minutes K's twice threatened from Liam Collins corners. First Giles Coke pulled a volley wide, and then centre-back Richard Taylor rose above the defence to head narrowly wide.

Two minutes later Dover had their first chance, but Craig Cloke fired well wide from 20 yards. On the quarter-hour mark The Kent side called Lance Key into action though, as the K's stopper had to pluck James Taylor's tricky headed cross out of the air following Martin Carruthers' free kick.

With recent signings Taylor and Onochie adding to Bradford's height in the box and Dean Lodge floating round edge of the area waiting for second balls, K's looked far more dangerous from set plays than at any previous point in the season. When a 22nd minute corner fell to Lodge he fired a fierce volley narrowly over.

Lodge was causing problems with his pace and skill and on 25 minutes a great run down the left was only stopped by a cynical foul by James Farrier, producing a yellow card. Lodge took the free kick himself and whipped it across goal. Unfortunately for K's, Onochie was inches away from reaching it with a diving header that would surely have produced a goal.

The Kent side remained under pressure though, and veteran goalkeeper Paul Hyde looked unconvincing in punching clear another tricky ball from Lodge that again resulted from him picking up the clearance from a corner.

Muscat was also a menace getting forward, and on the half hour mark a positive run produced a free kick from which Dean Souyana came close. Four minutes later Hyde did well to claim a Souyana cross as K's left back caused numerous problems for Dover. On 37 minutes Shane Hamshare stopped him with a late tackle that produced a yellow card.

On 40 minutes Bradford of all people cut through The Whites' midfield with a powerful run and sent Collins in behind the defence. With Hyde flapping at the cross, Greg Ball could not quite get there to head home.

Both sides had their best chance of the game shortly before half-time. First a Carruthers free kick found Cloke. Key got down well to save his header, and then bravely stopped the follow-up. K's went on the counter-attack, and a flowing move saw Ball agonisingly hit the inside of the post with Hyde well beaten. Onochie followed up, but slightly off-balance he was unable to keep his header down.

In the 45th Welford became the third Dover player to be booked, for a nasty challenge on Bradford that eventually caused K's defender to go off early in the second half. Just before the break, a poor clearance by Dover after good work from Greg Ball fell to Liam Collins. His shot was blocked by a defenders' hand, but referee Declan Ford either didn't see the incident or adjudged that it was ball-to-hand and the sides went in level.

It was a second half that was rather scrappy and did not live up to the action of the first. Dover started the better side, with Welford heading Rogers' cross over, and a Cloke header coming close from a corner. K's soon reasserted themselves though, and another superb cross from Lodge left Hyde nowhere. Matt Pattison rose above Nicky Humphrey at the far post, but from an acute angle could not keep his header on target.

Dover were largely unthreatening and seemed content with a point, though the height of Welford meant that K's could never relax. He rose highest to meet a long throw on 64 minutes, but his header was straight at Key.

A fourth yellow card soon followed for Dover, as Cloke caught Muscat with a late tackle. K's were often trying to get in behind the tough Dover defence, so on 67 minutes Manager Scott Steele opted for extra pace and replaced Ball with Reggie Savage.

Three minutes later, a huge throw from Taylor was met only by a weak punch by Dovers' keeper. It fell to Collins, who headed wide.

In the 80th minute K's got a free kick on the left hand side. Hamshare refused to get 10 yards and blocked Lodge's attempted cross. The ref blew his whistle and allowed the kick to be retaken. He reached into his pocket, only to then remove his hand and fail to produce the second yellow card that would have seen Hamshare dismissed.

When Lodge eventually took the free kick, both Jon and Giles Coke narrowly failed to get on the end of it as another chance went begging for the hooped side.

There was no dramatic push from K's in the last few minutes, and the game fizzled out into a 0-0 draw which had never looked improbable. However K's can take much heart from the performance, and the side certainly looks a better one than that which started the season. Muscat, Coke, Onochie and Lodge have all come into the starting XI in recent games and have all made an immediate impression.

K's look better organised now, and with some bigger players in the team look less like being outmuscled by some of the physical teams in the Ryman Premier. Against both Tonbridge and Dover K's have been a posts' width from a probable three points, and it seems that on the field at least, things are looking brighter at Kingsmeadow.

Mon 6th Sep 2004
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Isthmian League Premier
Dover Athletic0
1Lance Key
2Frazer Muscat
3Dean Souyana
4Richard TaylorCautioned
5Matt Bradford14
6Giles Coke
7Liam CollinsCautioned
8Matt Pattison
9Elliot Onochie
10Greg Ball16
11Dean Lodge
12Bernard Asante
14Jonathan Coke5
15Mark Rhodes
16Reggie Savage10
17Martyn Williams
Match Report By
Simon Grier