Back down to earth with a bump on Non-League Day. Dover came to Plainmoor and showed why they are fighting at the top of the National League, whilst our poor display shows why Owers still has plenty of hard work on his hands.
We actually start the game reasonably well, but one long ball from Dover isn’t cleared and before you know it, Lewis climbs over Davis to head them into the lead.
The away side then go on to boss the first half, using the wind in their favour and pressing hard, especially out on the wings. The lead is almost doubled as we struggle to cope, and a one nil deficit at half time doesn’t seem so bad considering.
The second half wind blowing in our favour, does territorially give us a boost. However we still create nothing – whilst Dover are organised and quick to counter. Nothing illustrates this better than the second goal (see Key Moment), that clinches Dover the three points.
In the end we are out-matched and out-manoeovred by a very good team and can have no complaints about the result in this one – it could easily have been 3 or 4 nil, with the woodwork denying them twice.
Higgins 6 Gowling 7 McGinty 6.5 Davis 6.5
McQuoid 6 Young 7.5 Evans 6 Lathrope 6 Reid 5
Subs: Myrie-Williams 4 Pittman 6 Keating 5
Man of the Match:
Luke is again my pick for MOTM. His touch and control is good and he gives team-mates support off the ball, always looking for a pass. Generally a very tidy match for Luke, he just does not get enough chances on set pieces and in open play to test the goalkeeper.
The return of George will help, his imagination and skill could take some of the creative weight off of Luke’s shoulders.
In defence Gowling was pretty solid as usual; using his experience and positional sense to repel a number of attacks as the away team seized control.
His partner McGinty did ok defensively as well, but as always gave the ball away too often – I don’t need to tell you any more about that do I?! Apart from that I can’t say anybody was truly terrible, but none stood out either on a tough afternoon.
Same team, same tactics (4-5-1/4-3-3) and this time they didn’t cut mustard to trouble Dover. The away team doubled up on both wings and that made us look rigid and lacking balance.
Neither Reid or McQuoid could trouble the full backs – Owers changed this in the second with the entrance of Myrie-Williams – he didn’t have any luck either!
Upfront Murphy didn’t have the muscle to do a job on his own, as Parry shackled him expertly. It was a game where a target man would have been a big help, Dover had one (Ryan Bird) and his presence made a difference.
Dover are the best team I’ve seen at Plainmoor this season. It’s easy to say we were not at the races, but the away team looked excellent in defence and have pace and strength in attack to trouble any opposition in the NL.
The formidable Manny Parry at centre back is a really tough looking competitor. He would not give Murphy an inch and Rhys became more frustrated as the game dragged on.
Meanwhile right back Josh Passley was equally brilliant. His energy up and down the right wing was super. He made no mistakes in defence and was a constant threat to us charging forward.
Otherwise striker Ryan Bird gave them a very good outlet in attack (and scored) and Mitchell Pinnock was always a threat on the left wing.
Chris Kinnear has been building this team for a while, and has moulded them into a tough, organised unit who have goals in them. A definite promotion challenger on this form and something for us to aspire to be.
Ref Samuel Allison is a regular at Plainmoor and he often divides opinion during matches! The Ref doesn’t have many decisions to make, and waves away some obvious fouls whilst whistling for some less obvious. Not an outstanding performance, but also not one that swayed the result in any way.
We get a sniff of something early in the second half and as Luke Young stands over a free kick, we are hoping for something to happen. It does, but at the other end!
Luke’s shot is easily saved, and within a minute the ball travels down the wing as Dover spy a counter attack. A cross is delivered for Bird and his downward header just about beats Dorel. On another day Vincent may have kept it out, not today. It’s game over.
McQuoid had an uphill struggle on his hands during the first half. He faced Passley who looked like one of the best full backs in the league, and Josh could not shake the defender off with pace or skill.
The second half saw him move more centrally and he did get more involved. Some nice turns and passes aside, this possession did not turn into end product. A frustrating day for the loan man, and his lack of success in his personal battle was a common theme today for us. He’ll have better days against lesser opposition.
Today was just a step too far for Owers transitional side. We didn’t have the creative spark and physical strength to assert ourselves going forward, with only one shot on target making it a fairly miserable day.
The side did not have any luck in their individual battles and found themselves pressured and harried. The work in progress continues and in Halifax and Hartlepool, there are more winnable league games (on paper at least) to come in October. Got to play beter though. Before that we seek a rare Cup win, if Owers can mastermind one he’ll become very popular indeed!
Dominic – TT Editor