Dover up next for Saints

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 February 2011

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ST ALBANS City will be hoping to pick up some much-needed points when they entertain Dover Athletic this Saturday.

ADDRESS: Clarence Park, York Road, St Albans, Herts, AL1 4PL

Tel: 01727 864296

THE LOWDOWN: In their second season in the Blue Square Bet South, Dover Athletic are sitting in a healthy eighth place, sitting nine points outside of the play-off positions, although they have the advantage of a game in hand over fifth-placed Welling.

The Whites’ recent form has been patchy at best, winning just three of their last 11 outings. Home defeats against Ebbsfleet, Braintree and Weston-super-Mare stalled their promotion bid after an impressive run before Christmas.

However, last time out Martin Hayes’ side ended a run of three straight defeats to beat Eastleigh 2-0 thanks to goals from Barry Cogan and Adam Birchall.

Dover enjoyed their biggest victory this season with an impressive 7-2 defeat of Thurrock while their biggest defeat saw them go down 4-1 at Farnborough. With just Olly Schulz and Sam Long on the treatment table and midfielder Sam Cutler returning after recovering from a knee injury, Hayes has the luxury of a near-full squad to choose from.

THE MANAGER: Former Arsenal midfielder Martin Hayes first entered management when he became player-manager of Bishop’s Stortford in 1999. However, after almost a decade in charge his contract was terminated in November of 2008.

Just four months after leaving the Blues, Hayes was appointed manager of Isthmian League First Division North side Wingate & Finchley, but left the club in the summer of 2009.

A year later, the 44-year-old was offered a way back into football by Dover, becoming manager of the South-coast club in June 2010.

THE SQUAD: The Whites’ key man is barely debatable – forward Adam Birchall has hit an astonishing 23 goals in 24 league starts this term and starred in Dover’s lucrative run to the Third Round of the FA Cup.

Often relied upon as a lone striker for the club, the 26-year-old is supported by a wealth of attacking talent in Dover’s midfield. Barry Cogan was signed by Martin Hayes in November 2010 and scored his third goal for the club in Monday night’s victory over Eastleigh.

With Leyton Orient youth product Harry Barker and the hard-working Luke l’Anson joining ex-Coventry winger Donovan Simmonds in midfield, the Whites boast an impressive combination of flair and industry across the middle of the park.

In Matt Fish, Dover have arguably the best right-back in the club’s history, with the Crystal Palace youth product making 25 appearances so far in his fourth season with the club.

Former Bromley captain Rob Gillman has been equally important this term for the Whites, firmly establishing himself at the heart of Dover’s defence and becoming club captain shortly after joining the club.

However, the back four will miss the presence of fellow centre-back Schulz who is suffering from a hamstring injury. Similarly, City will not have to worry about dealing with influential forward Long after the former Gillingham man failed to recover from a groin injury.

There was some good news for Dover though as Sam Cutler is expected to make his comeback from a knee injury at the Crabble. The young midfielder has already made a handful of appearances for Dover’s first-team and is looking like an impressive prospect for the future.

LAST TIME: A Drew Roberts penalty was not enough to give City the victory during Dover’s visit to Clarence Park at the end of last season, as Adam Birchall levelled before a goal early in the second half from Shaun Welford handed the Whites a 2-1 win.

The reverse fixture at the Crabble ended in a hard fought 1-1 draw, with Welford again bagging an equaliser to earn Dover a share of the spoils after Jonathan O’Donnell, now at Luton, had given the Saints the lead.

REFEREE (subject to change): D Flanagan assisted by I Jempeji and A Hickman.

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