Due to the recent wet weather this game was switched from Dover at the last minute to Stonebridge Road where the playing surface was again in excellent condition. Unfortunately for the third home game running the Fleet went behind early on and found themselves two goals down at half time but although they put in a strong second half performance leaders Dover took the points.
The hosts had the first chance of the game on 5 minutes when Oliver Boulding did well down the right before pulling the back to the edge of the box where Leo Mazzone fired his shot just wide. Dover then took the lead with the next attack when the speedy Simba Nyaruwa got to the bye line before pulling the ball back to the edge of the box where Dover skipper Harry Priddle scored with a composed finish low to the right of Fleet keeper Rhys Hughes.
Things nearly got worse for the Fleet minutes later when Charlie Manning’s pass sent Nyaruwa clear down the right and he raced to the bye line before sending in a low cross that flew across the face of goal to the far post where Alfie Paxman had his close range shot blocked by Boulding. Fleet’s Karn Miller-Neave then tried a shot from wide left that had Dover keeper James Tonkin scrambling across his goal as the ball flew into the side netting. Dover then increased their lead on 18 minutes when Brandon de Grout’s left wing cross found Nyaruwa at the near post but his shot on the turn was well blocked by a Fleet defender but the ball fell to Alfie Paxman at the far post and he fired home from close range high to the left of Hughes.
On 24 minutes the Fleet altered their formation and took off midfielder Mitchell Liddle and replaced him with forward Jeffrey Nguede A minute later the change nearly worked as Joe Denny pumped a high ball forward and Nguede beat Thomas Holmes to the ball and raced through on goal but Tonkin made a good save low to his right to keep out Nguede’s effort.
Dover then went close on 36 minutes when Jack Paxman floated in a deep cross from the right that had Hughes back pedalling to make a good save high above his head to tip the ball over for a corner. Minutes later Miller-Neave fired in a curling free kick from some 25 yards that flew around the Dover defensive wall and Tonkin moving to his right initially held and then spilt but the Dover keeper was able to gather the loose ball before a Fleet forward could pounce.
At half time Louie Allen replaced Andre Trenton. Fleet nearly reduced the arrears early in the second half when Nguede’s right wing cross was turned goalwards by Shilow Tracey but blocked by the legs of Tonkin moving to his left but the ball rebounded out to Caleb Bearman-Dyce who hit a fierce shot that beat Tonkin high to his right but rattled the bar before flying over. Dover then had a couple of chances as Manning hit a 30 yard effort that flew straight at Hughes before Nyaruwa sent in a deep right wing cross to the far post where a diving Alfie Paxman had his header well saved by Hughes moving to his right.
Injured left back Miller-Neave then limped off to be replaced by centre half Jack Barnes causing a slight reshuffle to the Fleet back line. The hosts then pulled a goal back on 56 minutes when their substitutes combined as a floated free kick from Allen was headed home by Barnes low to the left of Tonkin. However Dover should have restored their two goal cushion on 63 minutes when Jack Paxman’s right wing cross picked out an unmarked Alusine Bangurd who headed wide when well placed. Minutes later a good Fleet move saw Nguede put Bearman-Dyce through on goal but Tonkin made a superb save high to his right to hold onto the Fleet centre forward’s fierce shot.
On 78 minutes Alfie Paxman hit a shot from wide left that Hughes held well moving to his right before there was a long delay as the young lady linesman slipped and twisted her knee and had to be carried from the pitch. Garry Spencer, a qualified referee, who was watching the game volunteered to take over running the line and the game was able to restart.
Fleet nearly drew level on 80 minutes when Boulding’s excellent right wing cross picked out Nguede at the far post but his header flew over. Minutes later hesitation in the Fleet defence gifted the visitors their third goal as Alfie
Paxman sent in a low cross to the near post where Barnes, might have gotten a call and left the ball for Hughes to gather but Joshua Donnelly managed to get in between them and stab the ball home low to the right of Hughes. Minutes later Dover nearly score a fourth as Donnelly made a strong run down the right before cutting into the box and hitting a dipping shot that Hughes saved superbly diving low to his left to push the ball out for a corner.
Shortly afterwards we had a further delay when Nguede went up for a corner and was accidentally caught on the head by Tonkin as he came to claim the ball leaving Nguede with very wobbly legs. He left the field for treatment and returned but shortly afterwards had to go off permanently. Then deep in stoppage time Fleet managed to reduce the arrears as Boulding made another strong run down the right before sending in a low cross that was well controlled by Allen at the near post. He then fed the ball across to Beraman-Dyce who fired home from close range.
However the last action of the game saw Dover go close to scoring again when Nyaruwa sent Donnelly clear down the left and he cut into the box and hit a low shot that Hughes blocked well but the rebound fell out to Alfie Paxman who had his close range shot blocked by Barnes before Manning shot wide. Although this was another defeat for the Fleet it was against a very good Dover side who consolidate their position at the top of the table. Dover had a number of good performances from their players but their captain Harry Priddle had a particularly effective game breaking up play in midfield and distributing the ball well.
TEAM: Hughes, Boulding, Miller-Neave, Liddle, Denny, Stewart, Trenton, Mazzone, Bearman-Dyce, Tracey, Johnson. Subs: Barnes, Bowers, Nguede, Allen, Crean-White, Salter, Taderera