Dover was our first away game of the new season back in August and at that time we had no idea what was in store for us. Our central defender Jamie Grimes had joined up with them a month earlier and the general consensus was what on earth was he thinking joining a team that was going to struggle to stay in the League this season and former manager Gary Whild also said at a fans forum earlier that when Grimes told him he was leaving for Dover he called him stupid and could not understand the reasoning behind his decision. Obviously Grimes knew something that Whild didn't and so it has proved when he scored in the 3-2 defeat.
Sadly for Jamie his season hasn't gone too well down by the White Cliffs and he's been out injured for most of the time but in recent weeks has been coming off the bench late on in games. With a close season under his belt, and hopes of staying injury free, he should get more game time next season.
Now we are at the other end of the season and tomorrow we'll be playing for pride and for the new manager that came in yesterday although he won't be at Aggborough to see it. John Eustace (left) is the man charged with getting us back into the Conference Premier by the end of next season and he's going to have a tough job on his hands with a lack of experience in management along with, possibly, one hand tied behind his back. Also coming in is Matt Gardiner from Worcester City as his right hand man or will he be the back up replacement when Colin Gordon and John Eustace don't see eye to eye?
Tomorrow our visitors will be without Richard Orlu for the game after he was dismissed from the field of play at Macclesfield a week or so ago but will be in time for the play-off games if Dover reach them. On the injury front they'll be without Aswad Thomas with a long term problem with his knee while Sean Raggett will be assessed for a hamstring injury before the game. High scorer Ricky Modeste had a bad cut to his mouth at home to Grimsby last Saturday but should be ok to play.
Our only injury is to Arthur Gnahoua and we'll probably go with the same starting line-up that we did against Barrow last Saturday with Dan Sweeney ploughing a lone furrow once more.
So this is it then? Our final home game at this level since 1983 when we gained promotion from the Southern League Premier Division to the Alliance Premier League under the stewardship of the legendary Graham Allner. He took us to a chapter of our history where we became one of the power houses of non league football and then handed over the reigns to Jan Molby in 1999 for the next step to the Football League in time for the new Millennium. We spent five years there holding on by the skin of our teeth until finally coming back to rest in the Conference where some would say was our natural level.
Apart from a couple of glory years under Steve Burr we have never set this division alight but we've always been a highly respected club and have won many admirers for the way we did things at Aggborough. Hopefully under the new management we can soon get back to our 'natural level' because no way do we want to be sat watching National North dross for too long.
Snedker, Brown, Hodgkiss, Lowe, Langmead, Williams, Fané, Francis-Angol, Gnahoua, Tunnicliffe, Jones, Whitfield, McQuilkin, Sweeney, N'Gwatala, Kinsella, Singh, Taylor, Patrick, Garnett.
Dover Athletic from:
Walker, Hook, Rafferty, Magri, Kinnear, Raggett, Modeste, Bellamy, Miller, Murphy, Diallo, Ofori-Acheampong, Grimes, Sterling, Deverdics, Parkinson, Payne, Pinnock, Crawford, Marsh, Braham-Barrett, Essam.
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