Fleet 0-1 Dover Athletic

Fleet are still searching for a first win over the Christmas period after Dover’s solitary first-half strike condemned Kevin Watston’s side to defeat in the last game of the decade at the Kuflink Stadium.

Dover led through Michael Woods’ excellent strike on the quarter-hour and survived a spirited but fruitless Fleet attempt to respond to secure a second 1-0 win at the Kuflink Stadium in successive seasons.

Kevin Watson made three changes to his side, bringing in Andre Blackman, Marvel Ekpiteta and Ayo Obileye. The Fleet’s task was to build on a point at Dagenham and secure maximum points at home but Dover got off to the better start.

Inih Effiong headed over within the opening five minutes while Jack Munns and Michael Woods probed for an opening as the visitors began with more ambitious intentions.

And that opening aided them in their pursuit of the opening goal, which arrived on 15 minutes. Jai Reason and Effiong disturbed the home defence sufficiently to allow Woods a shot on goal and his finish was excellent as he fired past Jordan Holmes.

Fleet’s response to going a goal behind was certainly upbeat but the home side’s finishing let them down more often than not. Obileye had a couple of efforts skip wide and Myles Weston was forward-thinking in his play, getting a shot on target midway through the half.

Fleet forced a couple of corners and Tyler Cordner was most unfortunate not to connect at the far post as Dover failed to deal with the second delivery.

The home side inched closer with set pieces as Weston’s free-kick cleared the wall but flew wide and the same player stood up a fine delivery that Jack King sent towards goal but Yusuf Mersin gathered that low to his left.

Fleet’s response after the break was upbeat and within a minute the home side had sight of goal again. Gozie Ugwu got in behind the Whites defence and Alex Reid wasn’t far away when his delivery caused Bobby-Joe Taylor a moment’s anxiety before Mersin rescued him. But straight from that attack, Holmes was forced to save from Effiong as Dover countered.

Watson’s men continued to build on their positive start to the second half and Ugwu was through on goal only to see quick reactions from Mersin deny him.

An injury to Weston interrupted Fleet’s impetus, though replacement John Goddard teed up Reid on 67 minutes before Taylor rather messily cleared his lines.

Goddard continued to produce some lively movement down the flank before Frankie Sutherland’s header from a Blackman cross was tipped over by Mersin. Reid’s effort on 70 minutes went the same way while at the other end, Dover appealed for a penalty when Ade Yusuff went down in the box but nothing was given.

Fleet piled on the pressure as the clock ticked down. With 12 minutes left, Mersin saved low from Ugwu and then Reason had to head off the line. From that close chance, Fleet were then relieved to keep it at 1-0 when Dover countered, Steven Rigg’s delivery dragged just wide by Yusuff.

Dover continued to hold out as the game entered its final moments, a couple of Fleet corners keeping Mersin busy as Ugwu was inches away from prodding a loose ball home. The visitors kept the Fleet at bay in five minutes of time added on but Ugwu had one final opportunity and Josh Payne fired high before the final whistle confirmed the points for the Whites.

EUFC: Holmes, Ekpiteta, Blackman, King, Cordner, Payne, Obileye, Weston (Goddard 56), Sutherland (Umerah 77), Reid (Adeloye 77), Ugwu. Subs not used: Palmer, Grimes
DAFC: Mersin, Passley, De Havilland, Lokko, Taylor, Woods, Reason, Munns (Yusuff 59), Modeste (Rigg 72), Effiong, L’Ghoul (Jeffrey 68). Subs not used: Simpson, Cumberbatch.
Attendance: 1,222

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