Dover and out for Saints
City end campaign with defeat at Dover
Blue Square Bet South
Dover Athletic 4 St Albans City 1
ST ALBANS City’s tenure in Conference South ended with defeat to Dover Athletic on Saturday.
Two goals from the league’s leading scorer Adam Birchall plus efforts from full-back Nathan Ashton and winger Donovan Simmonds put City to the sword with Pete Smith’s excellent free kick the visitors’ only consolation.
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The Saints actually started the brightest and things may have been different had referee Colin Lymer awarded a penalty kick when Inih Effiong was clearly poleaxed by Ross Flitney just six minutes in. The Saints’ top scorer had already fired over the bar when he was played in by Tony Battersby and as Flitney came rushing out Effiong knocked the ball wide of the ‘keeper only for the former Barnet stopper to collide with the striker leaving both men in a heap on the floor. Referee Lymer, however, wasn’t interested and that let off spurred Dover on.
Despite only being able to name two substitutes for the long journey to Kent, the Saints were able to call upon the services of Charlton Athletic goalkeeper Conor Gough and his first action was to produce an excellent one handed save to deny Rob Gillman after the Dover captain had been left unmarked at a corner.
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This was about as good as it got for Gough though and the 18-year-old stopper was soon picking the ball out of the back of his net. The home side broke quickly from a City corner through Harry Baker down the right. The midfielder cut infield before playing a lovely ball in behind Ollie Kelly for Ashton who simply slid the ball underneath Gough to open the scoring.
One became two inside 60 seconds when Simmonds was allowed to run unchallenged down the right and pick out the unmarked Birchall who rolled the ball past Gough from eight yards out.
Jon Wallis and Baker both missed the target with efforts from the edge of the box but Dover did add a third before half time when Sam Cutler unlocked the City defence with an intricate pass that Simmonds latched onto before knocking the ball gently past the unguarded Gough.
Just like the first half the Saints made a good start after the interval but were unable to find a way past Flitney with Battersby shooting straight at the goalkeeper after being teed up by Nick Chrysanthou.
Battersby should have found himself up against Flitney soon after when City found themselves two on one at the back but Effiong was greedy and held on to the ball allowing Dover to snuff out the threat.
The visitors did get on the scoreboard though and it was worth the wait. Effiong was hauled down on the edge of the penalty area and Smith made no mistake with the free kick curling it into the top corner and leaving Flitney clutching at thin air.
Had City had a bit more luck when Glodi Kweme’s cross struck a defender and headed goalwards it may have made things interesting but Tom Wynter was on hand to hack the ball off the line.
As it was the final goal went the way of the home side as Matt Fish’s long ball forward was allowed to reach the unmarked Birchall who easily beat Gough for his 45th goal of the season.
The home side carved out further chances but Baker’s header was cleared off the line by Rob Magwood and Birchall was denied a hat-trick by the out stretched palm of Gough. The woodwork also came into play to deny Cutler as Dover pushed for goal number five but it was City who finished stronger with Flitney earning his keep denying both Battersby and Dom Petrucci.
Both sides finished the season with disappointment as results elsewhere meant Dover missed out on the play-offs while City were left to spend the summer facing up to life in either the Ryman or Southern Premier Division.
Dover: Flitney; Fish, Wynter, Wallis (Spence 73), Ashton Gillman �, Baker, Cutler, Simmonds, Birchall, Cogan.
Subs: Charles, Spence, Schulz, Long, Hook.
City: Gough; Humbert, Smith, Magwood, Peters, Chrysanthou (Petrucci 54) , Everitt �, O Kelly, Battersby, Effiong, Shields (Kweme 34).
Subs not used: none.
Referee: Colin Lymer.