Whites crash out of the Trophy after a ding dong affair at home. – By Fred Deveson
An action packed, thrilling game at Crabble saw Dover draw 4-4 to Weymouth, with the away side eventually progressing to the next round via a 4-1 penalty shootout win.
It was a slightly different side that played in front of just under 400 people, with George Wilkinson making his first start of the season, and Luke Pearce making his debut after signing on loan from Southampton. Iffy Allen also started the game for Dover and impressed from minute one. His pace and trickery caused problems for the Weymouth right back and, after a scrappy start, Allen put The Whites in front with a deflected shot that looped over the goalkeeper inside the first ten minutes.
It only took the home side 6 minutes to double their lead, with George Wilkinson placing his effort in the bottom corner from just inside the area much to the delight of the home faithful. Dover looked fairly comfortable and were threatening time and time again, with chances for Allen and Dontai Stewart being blocked by the away side.
However, just after the 30-minute mark, Weymouth hit back. Touray finished his effort from close range after the visitors had threatened with balls in behind and crosses from the wide areas. Stewart had the chance to make it 3-1 to the home team, but he couldn’t convert. Dover began to look nervous and suddenly more gaps started appearing at the back, and it then wasn’t long before the equaliser hit the back of the net, right before half time, with Touray doubling his tally.
There was some questionable refereeing in the first half, with some crunching tackles from both teams going unnoticed by the referee, which angered the fans and players alike. These decisions continued into the second half, with tackles flying in left, right and centre. Bookings for both teams did arrive eventually.
After the break, it did not take long for the away team to put themselves in front. Goodship was the scorer after an incisive break away from Weymouth. The comeback was complete, and the hosts’ morale dropped as a result. The goal crushed the spirit of the home side, who kept giving cheap balls away and found themselves out of position often.
Paris Lock had a chance to bring Dover back to 3-3, but a good save from the goalkeeper kept the score at 2-3. The visitors saw the gaps at the back left by Dover and pounced. Seven minutes after the third goal, a fourth was added by Tom Bearwish, and it looked plain sailing for the away side.
Weymouth had chances to make it five, but Dover number 1 Billy Terrel made a couple of good saves to keep the home side in it, which proved to be vital come the end of the game. Wilkinson had a shot from inside the area but put it over the bar, and Zidan had a shot saved by the goalkeeper and that looked to be it, until Nick Dembele, the substitute pulled it back to 3-4.
Dover kept fighting, and with the support of the home crowd, they found the equaliser in the dying seconds. Zidan Sutherland found his way to the back post and slotted in the equaliser for Dover after a cross from Lock found its way to him. The game was set for penalties.
Weymouth netted their first penalty, but Zidan, the hero of injury time, saw his penalty saved. Bearwish for the visitors and Anifowose for Dover both scored and it was 1-2. The visitors then scored their next penalty, but Wilkinson saw his effort held. Anthony Chesire then stepped up and sent the visitors through to the next round of the FA Trophy, much to the heartache of Dover.
Even if it wasn’t to be for The Whites, the team showed great fighting spirit to level the game and send it penalties, and the 4 goals scored is a huge positive for the next few games. It’s Eastbourne Borough next for Dover Athletic, as the team looks to escape the drop.
Dover Athletic: Terrell, Oyenuga, Naylor, Mensah, Lock, Allen, Dunne, Young, Wilkinson, Stewart, Pearce
Subs: Anifowose, Nikaj, Dembele, Zidan, Baptiste, Hatcher, Powell
Weymouth: Thompson, Howe, Hamblin, Cheshire, Thompson j, Olu, Bearwish, Roberts, Goodship, Touray
Subs: Benfield, O’Connell, Rollinson, Bolton, Thomson