As I drove upto Dover for this pre-season friendly fixture (and local derby) the sun came out to break through what had, upto then, been a grey and stormy sky.
I found free parking on Crabble Road, outside a pub. Then I had a short walk upto the ground, although it’s a steep climb!
Dover had a tough season last year, withdrawing from their fixture commitments to the National league, when the suggested grant offered to ensure they could play the season out, turned out to be a loan, which the club felt they couldn’t risk taking.
As a result, Dover were heavily criticised by their fellow clubs, and received a fine of £40,000 for last season and a matching fine for 2021/22 as well as receiving a 12 point deduction they will carry into the new season. This came hard after a successful campaign in 2015-16 when Dover made the play-offs to get within touching distance of the football league. For the current season their manager, Andy Hessanthaler, has had to release all but four of the contracted players they had registered last season.
Dover’s ground is really impressive and has plenty of character. There are three small and one large seated stands. Then behind each goal are covered standing areas. The clubhouse is impressive and there are hospitality boxes with one of the seated stands. The pitch slopes from side to side sitting on a hill on the edge of parkland. There are small electronic scoreboards behind each goal, although one appeared to be broken.
The first 15 minutes saw both sides pushing forward. Chances came for both sides, although they both seemed to lack the final pass to create certain goal scoring opportunities.
Travis Gregory (Number 17 for Dover) was beginning to cause trouble and won a corner on 24 minutes. This corner led to Jake Goodman breaking the deadlock with a well headed goal from the resulting corner, to make it 1-0 to Dover.
The remainder of the second half saw opportunities for both sides. Dover looked dangerous but the Folkestone team fought hard in midfield and at the break were pushing back and creating chances.
Dover made a number of changes at the half time break, to give their triallists a chance. Folkestone put pressure on from the restart and Tyler Sterling scored an equaliser on 57 minutes with a neatly curled finish from a free kick.
In the 81st minute, Folkestone spurned the chance to take the lead, against their higher league opponents, when Adam Yussuf saw his weak penalty saved by Adam Parkes, who had just arrived on loan at Dover, from Watford.
Almost immediately in the 83rd minute, Dover went 2-1 up with a well taken goal from Aaron Cosgrave.
As the whistle blew the 704 fans went away seeing Dover Athletic secure a 2-1 victory, but Folkestone Invicta could have got more from the game, had the penalty finish been converted.