The Whites are enjoying their rise in the National League
27 November ~ Dover Athletic are third in the National League going into this weekend’s match with bottom club Halifax, and just four points off the top. We’ve actually been one of the better sides in the division for over a year now, a circumstance that seemed unlikely in the first months of last season.
Our return to the top level of non-League for 2014-15 initially looked likely to be short-lived, with just seven points from our first 11 fixtures. However, once manager Chris Kinnear (who’d brought us to the the Conference in 1993 following a ground-grading rebuff three years earlier) realised that many of the promotion squad needed to be replaced, our fortunes changed dramatically.
In the event, relegation became a mathematical impossibility going into Easter and we finished a creditable eighth after flirting with the play-offs. With a bit of luck, this season’s improvement should see us staving off relegation by Christmas. Not too many fans are talking about another promotion via the play-offs or otherwise.
We are, however, having a damned good time rather than muttering about moving on to the next level. Highlights so far include the 1-0 at Tranmere, watched by close on 200 Dover fans, and the 5-2 victory at Eastleigh.
While Kinnear might be roundly criticised for the club’s style of play, his ability not to panic and to make gradual rather than wholesale changes to his side has brought dividends. To some onlookers, Dover Athletic are a bit “agricultural” and they do indeed get the ball forward early, while if midfielder Nicky Deverdics isn’t on-song, there’s nothing too aesthetically pleasing going on in the middle third of the pitch.
That said, we’ve got pace and skill up front, are very attack minded home and away and, as part-timers who go out to work all week, look immeasurably fitter and sharper than some of our full-time counterparts. And our most recent goal, from the 1-1 draw at Chester in midweek, was quite spectacular. Mark Winter