Dover, for that's who we'll be playing, will also be hoping to put their holiday game at the back of the cupboard following their terrible 6-1 loss at Woking where Scott Rendell scored four times for the home team to put himself at the top of the scoring charts with six goals this season so far. That was Dovers worst defeat since they lost by the same scoreline to Lewes on Boxing Day five years ago.
Dover started the game with quite a few regulars missing due to injury and suspension. Sean Francis and Ricky Modeste both missed out through injury and Modeste is a major doubt for our game while Tom Wynter returned from injury to play against Woking but was withdrawn from the game early in the second half. Defender Sean Raggett will serve the second part of a three game suspension after being sent off for violent conduct in Dover's 2-1 victory against Eastleigh.
They'll also be without two young players who signed pro forms at the start of the season. Both Osita Isichei and Oliver Beard have been loaned to Ramsgate for the next month.
Dover came back up into the Conference this season after last gracing this league in 2000. So far they've made a solid if, un-spectacular, start to life back at the top and will be hoping to use this season as one of consolidation. They have just the one win so far, the one against Eastleigh, and also drawn one so even though they have lost three games they will not be an easy pushover.
We'll be without Chey Dunkley, as mentioned earlier, so Jamie Grimes will step into his shoes for the one game that he's out for. It's expected that Josh O'Keefe will get the nod to come into midfield but knowing our manager he'll opt to go all defensive yet again and probably bring in Jake Green for his first start. Up front no doubt we'll go with the same non firing duo of Nathan Blissett and Craig Reid even though Gary Whild hinted at a change up front for one of the holiday games but that never materialised. To be honest Michael Gash and Reece Styche haven't exactly set the Conference on fire either and we still find ourselves without a goal actually getting scored by a striker. All have come from defence and midfield so far.
We should have no other injury problems.
We could be seeing a couple of 'new' players though. Newspaper talk has mentioned our interest in the former Wrexham midfielder Jonny Hunt who is now with Cambridge Utd but not getting any gametime. Also the less 'new' player could be defender Amarii Bell (above right) who we had on loan at the end of last season. He went to Mansfield on loan at the start of the season but was never given any playing time so was recalled by Birmingham City. We had already asked for him before then but financial restrictions had ruled it out. We still have those restrictions and have already made two office staff redundant and our next move could be to shed one of our highest earners with Michael Gash rumoured to be interesting Lincoln City.
There's no doubt that lessons have to be learnt from last weekend and hopefully both the players AND the management will take that on board and give the fans something to shout about after, so far, a season that has given us some solid results, an un-beaten run but very little excitement. It's only going to take one decent side to expose our frailties and give us the kind of hammering that Dover received on Monday. I can't actually see it being Dover but it's not far off unless we start to get our act together.
Photo © KHFC
Lewis, Singh, Hodgkiss, Green, Storer, Nicholson, Gowling, Grimes, Williams, O'Keefe, Byrne, Obeng, Johnson, Verma, Blissett, Gittings, Gash, C Reid, Styche, Hales.
Dover Athletic from:
Walker, Hook, Stone, Wynter, Kinnear, Orlu, Modeste, Bellamy, Elder, Murphy, Cogan, Lock, Payne, Francis, Sterling, Deverdics, Goulding, J Reid, Nanetti, Mambo.
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