Thursday 01st September 2005
Saturday 16th
April 2005
Ryman League
Premier Division
Stephen McCartney reports from Avavan 
Longmead Stadium
Tonbridge Angels  3 Richard Brady 19
Tim Hambley 45
Nick Barnes 90 (pen)
Dover Athletic 2 Craig Cloke 35 (pen)
Nick Humphrey 85

Dover down and out!

CLIVE WALKER has vowed Dover Athletic will bounce back as their relegation from the Ryman Premier League was confirmed today.

The Dover boss saw his side lose to a dramatic and controversial penalty nine minutes into a staggering THIRTEEN minutes of stoppage time, somehow found by fussy Basingstoke referee Mr T Ingram.

Former Angels' defender Nick Humphrey headed home Dover's second equaliser with five minutes left but he turned from hero to zero when he brought down Angels' striker Steve Sodje some 16-yards from goal deep into injury time.

With the score at 2-2, and the clock showing 52:51, Nick Barnes wanted the ground to swallow him up as his penalty crashed off the roof of the stand but the referee demanded a re-take, much to the anger of everyone from Dover.

This time Barnes kept his composure and found the bottom right hand corner of Paul Hyde's net - giving the Angels a chance of escaping the drop - but they must win their last two games.

It was win or bust for both sides when Humphrey glanced Alistair Heselton's free kick into the far corner of Jamie Turner's net.

But when Sodje received the ball down the right flank, just inside the Dover half, he left Humphrey in his wake, before cutting into the penalty area and going down after Humphrey's challenge.

Tonbridge, however, went into the interval with a 2-1 advantage.  They took the lead after 19 minutes when Jon Farley's cross found Richard Brady, and after evading Craig Cloke's challenge, he fired inside the near post.

Dover were level after 35 minutes. Cloke launched a throw, close to the corner flag, into the penalty area, and John Beales handled inside the six yard box.

Turner tried to delay the taking of the resulting penalty, and was booked for his troubles, but Cloke sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with a coolly taken spot kick, and celebrated with his team-mates and travelling fans inside the goal as Turner picked the ball out of his net.

Tonbridge, however, regained their lead on the stroke of half time when Tim Hambley's near post header, from Barnes' flag-kick, sent the Longmead faithful wild.

Cloke, a player Dover should be proud off, had three attempts on goal for the visitors in the second half, heading a 52nd minute free kick wide and nine minutes later his fierce drive was beaten out by Turner at the near post.

After the home club announced £682.07 was raised for the family of Paul Sykes from a bucket collection - it was the Angels ' highest gate of the season (871) - Barnes' applied pressure on Humphrey, and saw his shot somehow kept out by 41-year-old goalkeeper Hyde at his near post.

Barnes took the resulting corner kick himself, which Sodje headed over from eight yards.

Dover came agonisingly close with 14 minutes of normal time left.  Heselton's corner was cut back to Narada Bernard and his cross was met by Cloke's header, which flew just wide.

But when Humphrey scored against his former club late on, both sides went gun-hoe for that much needed winner, and with Harrow Borough and Cheshunt both winning, Dover will be playing Division One football next term.

Tim Hambley's free kick from just outside the box was kept out by Hyde before the dramatic late, late, late penalty incident.

Sadly for Dover relegation has been confirmed despite a brave effort in Walker's thirteen games in charge - but the former Chatham Town manager insists the club will bounce back.

"I think this is a big club and it will come back," he insisted.  "I've seen Manchester City, I've seen them all in the third division and this is one of the biggest club's in the non-league and it will come back and will be a big club again.

"I'll be here next season.  I want to get a team here what I left, that was a strong, positive side, good attitudes and I will do it again."

His opposite number, Tony Dolby praised his players and they must win their last two games, at Harrow Borough next Saturday and against Hampton & Richmond Borough on the final day of the season to survive.

"We certainly won't give up the ghost," he said.  "We'll go to Harrow next week and hopefully get three points we require and then go into the last game of the season giving ourselves the best possible chance."

Both managers expressed their opinions of the man in the middle.

Dolby added: "It was extraordinary.  I couldn't see where it came from (thirteen minutes of stoppage time) to be honest.  I'm glad it did in hindsight but not after the penalty went in.  I thought he could have blown up earlier.

"Obviously it's a local derby, it's a tough game to referee.  I think he done okay in the circumstances.  There's a couple of dubious bookings which are irrelevant at this stage of the season anyway, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt."

Totally the opposite reaction from an enraged Dover boss, who added: "To miss the penalty and then re-take it when it's hit the bloody stand, is an absolute bloody joke.

"I thought it was a poor referee from the start, I thought the linesmen were poor and they can report me to the FA - they can do what they want.  I thought they were bloody disgraceful for a local derby."

So Dover feel they can get out of Ryman League Division One at the first attempt.  A little warning. So did Bromley, Dulwich Hamlet and Tooting & MItcham United!

Tonbridge Angels: Jamie Turner, John Beales, Craig Roser, Tim Hambley, Michael Cramp, Jon Farley, Richard Brady (Gareth Street 90), Danny Lye, Leroy Huggins (Luke Piscina 77), Nick Barnes, Steve Sodje.  Subs: Kieron Wilson, Ross Mills, Mike McKeown

Dover Athletic: Paul Hyde, Sam Vallance (Walid Matata 59), Narada Bernard, Nick Humphrey, Craig Cloke, Daniel Braithwaite (Alistair Heselton 72), Shane Hamshare, Craig Wilkins, Victor Renner, Anthony Hogg, Matt Carruthers.  Subs: James Rogers, Michael Smissen, Kevin Readings

Attendance: 871
Referee: T Ingram (Basingstoke)
Assistants: G Croft (Battle) & J D O'Cock (Maidstone)