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Dover Athletic 1-1 Fleet

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The third 1-1 draw at Crabble between these two sides in succession is likely to please Garry Hill more than his opposite number. Ayo Obileye’s first-half opener looked set to upset the form book until Will De Havilland headed the Whites’ reply in the second-half.

In contrast to Dover’s unchanged side, there were five tweaks to the Fleet lineup as Tyler Cordner made his debut, there was a first start for Alex Reid plus places for Frankie Sutherland, Aswad Thomas and Obileye.

Dover began well enough, looking to unsettle an opponent made more vulnerable by Saturday’s defeat. And as against Aldershot, Fleet had to defend against an early couple of set pieces. Nassim L’Ghoul connected well with a shot from 25 yards that whistled past Jordan Holmes’ post on four minutes and Ini Effiong caused some confusion in the box after a neat exchange with Michael Woods.

But Fleet got forward with a little more adventure from the 10-minute mark, Reid and James Ball swinging in a few crosses that earned a couple of corners.

Effiong got the wrong side of Cordner on 11 minutes but could only scoop the ball into the hands of the Fleet goalkeeper before the visitors shocked the home side with the opening goal.

That arrived on 13 minutes, Reid’s cross from the left cleared to Thomas whose high delivery to Ball was helped on into the path of Obileye who finished very well past Lee Worgan.

Fleet almost added a second moments later when Myles Weston worked up a head of steam into the box but Worgan was down well to that effort.

Holmes fondness for a punch was in evidence on 18 minutes when he relieved pressure on his defence from a dangerous deep cross as both sides continued to venture forward, though without clear sight of goal.

Josh Umerah almost had the target in his sights from 12 yards but was swiftly closed down by Kevin Lokko before Cordner got a good head to Sutherland’s inswinging free-kick but saw it bounce wide.

Out of nothing, Dover were almost back into it on the half-hour. Rigg got some change out of Thomas down the right and was then sent sprawling on the edge of the box.

Effiong went for power with the penalty but his accuracy left a lot to be desired as Holmes watched the third spot kick in three games against him sail into the stand.

Dover were doing their best to unsettle the Fleet defence but the visitors rode it well through to half-time, helped by Reid who was often found overlapping into a deep position to protect Thomas.

Indeed Fleet finished the 45 minutes on top, Weston’s corner almost dropped by Worgan and the Fleet wide man then making the most of Jai Reason’s slip to supply Ball for a shot on target.

The Whites began the second half strongly, Fleet allowing a ball on to the head of Effiong that Holmes blocked and the keeper then tipped over Woods’ dipping effort.

But Dover’s pressure increased and when Sutherland collided with Reason, the Whites man lumped a free-kick into the box, Will De Havilland rising high before Holmes could get to it for the equaliser.

Holmes was on hand to save the visitors with a decent instinctive save just past the hour when Jack King failed to get a bouncing ball away and Effiong broke through to fire on goal.

Effiong had a couple of half-chances as Dover continued to enjoy the bulk of possession and territory. And it was Effiong through on goal again on 79 minutes when Sutherland’s pass behind Obileye went straight to a Dover player but the striker’s effort was deflected into the side netting.

Fleet did well to take the sting out of Dover’s forward play and finally got round the back of the Whites defence 10 minutes from the end when Weston’s well-flighted cross was met by Obileye.

Dover responded with two chances of their own, Holmes denying both Pavey and Woods. With minutes left on the clock, Ball might have won it with a terrific shot on target that Worgan parried and as Ugwu steamed in for the rebound, the flag went up for a foul.

At the other end, Dover had a couple of late corners and one golden chance in time added on when Munns orchestrated an opening and Holmes’ terrific stop kept the scores level, Cordner ensuring the rebound went anywhere else but the target.

Reid threatened to gain ground with Fleet’s final attack but he curled an optimistic shot high and wide. But the point was a good, hard-fought one and exactly the sort of response Garry Hill demanded.

EUFC: Holmes, Wilson, Thomas, Obileye (Grimes 86), Cordner, King, Weston, Sutherland, Ball, Umerah (Ugwu 76), Reid. Subs: Biabi, Egan, Palmer
DAFC: Worgan, Passley, Lokko, De Havilland, Reason, Wood, L’Ghoul (Pavey 65), Gobern, Munns, Effiong, Rigg. Subs: Doe, Rooney, Hinchiri, Mersin
Attendance: 1,247 (136 EUFC)

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