Whites exit the FA Cup.

Dover’s FA Cup fire was extinguished in the Fourth Qualifying Round when a 1-0 defeat away to Eastleigh curtailed our chances of reaching the First Round Proper for another season. It was a bright start for the hosts who were confidently popping the ball around, trying to open up the Whites defence and they so nearly did when Rutherford burst through the away defence, only to blaze over the crossbar.

Henry Young battling for the ball before his late dismissal – Photo Eastleigh FC Website

Dover looked to play on the break with the explosive Lock and Zidan on either flank, looking to cause trouble with every attack, but it was the home side who could have opened the scoring with flurry of chances midway through the first half including a neat save from Terrell to keep the scores level going into the break. John Oyenuga had the best chance for the visitors with a rasping drive low to the goalkeepers right but McDonnell was equal to it.

The hosts continued with the pressure and on the hour mark it paid off as Taylor threaded the ball through the Dover defence to Carter, who finished from close range. Terrell and his defenders remonstrated with the linesman for an offside decision that never came. It was going to be an uphill task for the Whites now. The home side kept bearing down on Terrell’s goal, forcing him into another smart stop to keep the lead down to one.

Then came all the drama. With just ten minutes remaining, Eastleigh struck both uprights in the space of three minutes and you were starting to feel like there could be something in this for us. In the 84th minute, a loose ball was contested by Taylor and Young, with the Dover player getting there a little later, and the referee flashed a red card to send the Whites down to ten men.

The mountain to climb was now Everest. With just minutes remaining, Dover had a flurry of corners to try and find the equaliser and we thought we had when a loose ball fell to Nick Dembele just three yards out and as the bench jumped up to celebrate a certain goal, somehow McDonnell in the Eastleigh goal, stuck out a left arm to palm the shot away. It was a fantastic last ditch save.

With the game seemingly slipping away from the visitors, a corner at the death meant a forward run from goalkeeper Billy Terrell. The ball was swung in and it was Terrell who got his head to the ball, only for it to fall to safety. Moments later and Eastleigh were celebrating their win and a chance to play Boreham Wood in the First Round.

Dover Athletic: Terrell, Ojemen, Dunne, Sutherland, Naylor, Mensah, Hatcher, Young, Dembele, Oyenuga, Lock

Subs: Powell, Anifowose, Nikaj, Allen, Holness, Baptiste, Stewart

Eastleigh: McDonnell, Francillette, Carter, Taylor, McCallum, Boldewijn, Langston, Mauguire, Panter, Quigley, Rutherford

Subs: Scott, Barlow, Tshaka, Stock, Yang, Bagan