City sunk by classy Dover
City have no answer to Dover’s fluid movement
Blue Square Bet South
St Albans City 1 Dover Athletic 5
ST ALBANS City’s chances of Blue Square Bet South survival now look as grim as the weather at Clarence Park on Saturday.
Steve Castle’s men were put to the sword in emphatic fashion by a Dover Athletic side intent on gate crashing the end of season play-offs.
The Kent club’s chances of grabbing a spot in the play-offs look like hinging on the performances of strike duo Adam Birchall and Donnovan Simmonds, who on this showing look like one of the best combinations at this level.
It was Birchall who opened the scoring after just six minutes, chasing onto Barry Cogan’s incisive pass before calmly placing the ball into the bottom corner for his 25th goal of the campaign.
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Before City had time to regroup they found themselves two down as Simmonds got in on the act. Birchall held the ball up well on halfway before releasing the onside Simmonds who strode clear of the defence and fired home via the right hand upright.
Things could of got worse for City when Simmonds picked out the unmarked Lewis Spence in the box but the midfielder’s low shot was turned around the post by Paul Bastock.
Martin Hayes’ visitors played an attractive fluent game and City had no answer to their free flowing passing.
Spence then tried his luck again, this time from distance, but he shot well wide and Bastock did well to deny Simmonds after the forward had been given too much space in the penalty area.
The first half was proving to be all Dover and the visitors could have been further ahead when Birchall shot against the post.
Goal number three did arrive before the interval and proved to be third time lucky for Spence. Again Simmonds was involved holding the ball up well in the channel before rolling it back to left-back Tom Wynter. His first time pass to Spence gave the midfielder the space he needed to get his shot in and the ball flew through a sea of legs and past the unsighted Bastock.
It took City 44 minutes to work Ross Flitney and even then the big goalkeeper was equal to the effort. Inih Effiong controlled the ball superbly on his chest before turning and shooting in one movement but the shot was straight at Flitney.
It took the away side all of two minutes to score after the restart when Rob Gillman was left completely unmarked to bundle home.
City failed to deal with Barry Cogan’s corner and when the wide man crossed the ball for a second time Luke I’Anson was on hand to knock down for Gillman, who had the freedom of the penalty area, to beat the prone Bastock.
Gary Cohen, making his return after nine months out of football due to work commitments, threatened to pull a goal back when his pace got him in behind the Dover defence but although the former Grimsby man beat Flitney his lofted effort crashed into the side netting.
Dover continued to look threatening on the attack and it was no surprise when they chalked up their fifth goal of the afternoon.
Cogan looked to have over run the ball after a great burst down the left but the former Millwall man picked his spot beautifully to increase Dover’s lead.
A raft of substitutions from both sides disrupted Dover’s flow and the visitors were also probably guilty of taking their foot of the pedal after that.
Ben Martin’s frustrations saw him pick up a yellow card after he tripped an opponent and both Flitney and Dominic Shimmin saw yellow for their part in the shoving match that resulted.
It was to be costly for Shimmin who was shown a second yellow card eight minutes from time for a shocking lunge on substitute Aidy Chaves. The Dover defender can feel lucky that referee Darren Flanagan only saw fit to issue a second yellow card when a straight red would have been more apt.
It was all part of a lively cameo appearance from Chaves who scored City’s consolation with a well struck volley.
This time Dover failed to deal with a corner from the left and when the ball found Chaves 20 yards out, his drilled volley crept inside Flitney’s left hand post.
The City man could have had two goals to his name before the end of play when he cleverly shifted the ball onto his weaker right foot and left fly with a rocket only for the ball to crash off the crossbar with Dom Petrucci heading the rebound over.
Chaves’ performance was the one bright spark for City on an afternoon when they were second best by some distance.
The Saints are now in desperate need of three points at Weston-super-Mare on Saturday otherwise relegation will be looking a certainty.
City: Bastock; Fisher, Frater, Hocking, Smith (A Martin 69); Reeves, Kelly, Everitt, Cohen (Chaves 59); B Martin � (Petrucci 71), Effiong.
Subs not used: Magwood, Peters.
Dover: Flitney; Fish, Gillman �, Shimmin, Wynter; I’Anson, Wallis (Charles 73), Spence, Cogan; Simmonds (Baker 79), Birchall (Cutler 90).
Subs not used: Whyle, Hook.
Referee: Darren Flanagan (London).