Dover Athletic v Aldershot Town Match Preview – Friday 19th April 2019
Last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Hartlepool was ultimately not enough for Aldershot Town as results elsewhere ensured that their six year stay in the National League is about to end. However, three league fixtures remain to be played, starting on Good Friday, when The Shots travel to The Crabble, to take on Dover Athletic, who secured their own safety with a come-from-behind, 3-2 win at Barrow. BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall previews the game…
With relegation now confirmed and a pretty full playing squad to choose from, Shots boss Gary Waddock may well ring the changes on Saturday and elect to give much needed match time to the likes of James Rowe, Nick Arnold and Lewis Kinsella, all of which have been back in training and pushing for some match involvement in recent weeks. Matt Bozier and Shamir Fenelon have both left the club by mutual consent over the last week or so, in order to seek clubs for next season. George Elokobi remains an injury doubt.
Name: Dover Athletic
Nickname: The Whites
Manager: Andy Hessenthaler
Stadium: The Crabble Athletic Ground
2017/18 National League position: 8th
2018/19 Current League position: 19th
The dissolution of Dover FC in 1983 saw the formation of a new club, Dover Athletic, who took up the vacant place in the Southern League. Athletic won the title in 1990, but failed to gain promotion to the Conference due to the ground not meeting the required standard. Three years later, the same feat was repeated and resulted in promotion to Non-League top tier. Dover remained there for nine years before relegation. Restructuring of the league saw them transfer to the Isthmian League in 2004, from which they were relegated in their first season. Successive promotions in 2008 and 2009 took them to the Conference South. Three play-off seasons in five years eventually saw them regain their Conference status in 2013-14 after a twelve-year absence. Since then, they have always finished in the top half and their fifth-place finish in 2015-16 remains the highest placing in the club’s history.
53-year-old Andy Hessenthaler took over as Dover Athletic manager in October 2018, following the sacking of long term boss Chris Kinnear. It is Hessnethaler’s second spell in charge of The Whites, having won 101 of his 154 games in charge in his first spell with the club (2007-2010).
A former player himself, that made almost 500 combined appearances at Watford & Gillingham, Hessenthaler has also managed Gillingham, Leyton Orient and Eastleigh.
13 players left Dover at the end of last season. Notably, The Whites lost three key defenders; Femi Ilesanmi & Manny Parry joined Borehamwood, whilst fellow centre-back Giancarlo Gallifuoco now plays for FC Rieti in Italy. Top scorer Ryan Bird moved on to Maidenhead United, whilst they lost Mitch Pinnock to EFL side AFC Wimbledon during the latter part of last season. Twelve players stayed – including experienced goalkeeper Mitch Walker, defender Connor Essam, utility player Mitch Brundle and striker Jamie Allen. Eleven new arrivals showed up at The Crabble, including central defenders Moussa Diarra (Barrow) and Kevin Lokko (Stevenage), midfielder Bedsente Gomis (Barrow), Winger Anthony Jeffrey (Sutton United) and ex-Woking and Barrow striker Inih Effiong. Two players that joined Dover mid-season hae made big impacts, Winger Jai Reason, from Chelmsford and Striker Alfie Pavie, who has netted six goals for The Whites, in addition to the four he got for Havant & Waterlooville earlier in the season.
Saturday’s referee is David Rock and he has taken the middle in the National League on 23 occasions this season to date, showing 56 Yellow cards and 2 Red cards. He has not previously refereed Aldershot Town this season, although he did five times last season.
BBC Surrey Sports Rob Worrall and Aldershot Town FC co-Founder Graham Brookland will be covering the game live on Friday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2:50pm for full match commentary. To interact, tweet @RobShot66 and/or @grahambrookland.