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Dover Athletic 2 Grantham 0
CONFIDENCE is a precious commodity and Whites demonstrated its importance on Saturday with this dominant performance in the Dr Martens League’s premier division.
The one negative to emerge from the afternoon was a serious one, though, as young central defender Dean Readings was left writhing in agony and suffered a broken left ankle on the boggy pitch thanks to a lunge from behind from Dale Watkins who received only a verbal ticking off from the ref.
Whites steadily took a deserved lead after 25 minutes with a neatly taken goal. Jamie Day nicked the ball off an opposition midfielder, drove forward and expertly placed a low shot inside Grantham Mario Ziccardi far post from around 25 yards.
Craig Wilkins headed narrowly over from Carruthers right wing corner before Whites fashioned a great second strike which must be a strong contender for Goal of the Season.
After some neat triangular passing in midfield between Day and Lee Spiller, Tommy Tyne slipped a delightful ball to Wilkins in the inside right channel. The former Gravesend man had a clear sight of goal but still had plenty to do with the angle tight. Wilkins notched his 16th goal of the season, though, with a clinical finish, drilling a shot across Ziccardi and inside the far post.
Tyne almost added another in first half injury time but, intelligently choosing the right option when spotting Ziccardi off his line, saw his delicate 30 yard chip bounce to safety off the far post.
Whites carried on where they left off in the second half, rarely anything other than in complete control and with any luck at all would have killed the game off much earlier.
Andy Arnott came on for the unfortunate Readings and Dover hit the woodwork again, Wilkins far post header from Jimmy Jackson cross rebounding wide off the post. Day then forced a spectacular diving save from Ziccardi as he fired in a 30 yard shot.
In the final 20 minutes Grantham belatedly showed some fight. But apart from a header by skipper Rob Gould which drifted just wide, the visitors from Lincolnshire failed to convert pressure into scoring opportunities.
Wilkins was booked along with Grantham Martin Fox, as Whites coasted home to strengthen their bid for automatic promotion in front of a crowd of 618.
Having received plenty of criticism for some inept performances earlier in the season, Whites fully deserve praise for this display and it is to be hoped they are hitting their stride as the business end of the season beckons.
Dover Athletic: Hyde, Browne, Jackson, Readings (Arnott 52), Crofts, Chapman, Day (Patterson 87), Spiller, Wilkins, Tyne, Carruthers. Subs. not used: Davies, Hickman, Postma.