Sevenoaks Town 3-2 Dover Athletic - We've got the experience now, insists Moore - EXCLUSIVE

Tuesday 08th August 2006

Pre-Season Friendly
Tuesday 8th August 2006
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

Sevenoaks Town recorded a morale boosting 3-2 victory over Dover Athletic’s second string at Greatness Park tonight.

Confidence is high going into their opening Kent League fixture of the season against Greenwich Borough on Saturday.

The west Kent club have lost just one of their six pre-season outings, and that was a narrow 2-1 defeat at Canvey Island.

In fact they have scored 11 goals during pre-season. The club scored just 18 goals from 30 Kent League fixtures last season, in a miserable campaign which saw them finish rock bottom with just 14 points, winning just three times in the league.

Only Darren Pearson, Nick Reeves, Mike Cook and Lee Aldridge remain at the club from last season as joint-managers Bob Pittaway and Derek Moore ring the changes.

Although Joe Hampshire, Ryan Haskings and Courtney Rayfield progress from local football and Andy Jarvis, Scott McGuire and Aaron Rothwell have come up from the youth side, the managerial pair have been using their contacts to change the club’s fortunes as they bid to make it an top-eight finish this time out.

Joe Skillman, who impressed tonight, is set to start against Greenwich Borough on Saturday.

The goalkeeper, signed from Cray Wanderers, gets the nod as former Sittingbourne reserve team goalkeeper Lee Friend is currently injured.

Three players have signed from Kent League rivals Erith Town; Paul Springett, Matt Fagan and Darren Hogarth.

They also have a former Arsenal trainee at the club, in midfielder Frank Whitehead.

Leading the line are Matthew Jones-Butler (signed from Dartford) and Mike Bishop (Crockenhill).

Two other players who didn’t feature tonight, but have signed for the club, are Perry Spackman (Gravesend & Northfleet) and Charlie Hope (Dartford).

And there is plenty of hope at Greatness Park presently as the club aim to get their Kent League campaign off to a winning start on Saturday.

Sevenoaks Town should have taken the lead after seven minutes tonight when Reeves' brought Fagan’s corner under control but his shot sailed just over.

But Dover Athletic goalkeeper Jordan Pettman was guilty for having a hand in all the home side’s three goals.

Reeves’ ball over the top, in the 17th minute, was flicked on by Jones-Butler into Bishop’s path and his fierce drive should have been saved by the goalkeeper but the ball deflected of him and found the far corner.

Sevenoaks doubled their lead just four minutes later when Fagan cut in from the right and drove a 25-yard shot across the goalkeeper, who got a hand to the shot, but couldn’t prevent it finding the opposite corner.

Dover Athletic’s first chance fell to Jack Tanner when his right-footed free kick from 20-yards dipped just over.

Unlike last season, there is an energy amongst Sevenoaks’ players and this was evident tonight as they played the ball around on their much-improved playing surface.

Sevenoaks Town have spent £11,000 on ground improvements this summer, including better pitch drainage.

Aldridge, who replaced Cooke (shin) after just eleven minutes, played a pass to Jones-Butler, whose progress was blocked by two Dover defenders inside the box.

But Aldridge latched onto the loose ball and his shot sailed just over the bar.

Dover, meanwhile, pulled a goal back with six minutes to go before the interval, when Craig Birchenough drove a shot into the bottom far corner.

Skillman made two fine saves early in the second half as Gary Whittle’s side searched for the equaliser.

Stephen Grant’s left-footed free kick from 30-yards was tipped onto the bar by the Sevenoaks goalkeeper.

Then Liam Quinn saw his deflected shot bounce up and Skillman made sure it didn’t find the top corner, by tipping the ball over again.

But Grant Bagley fired home Dover’s second goal from the resulting corner, through a crowded goal-mouth, after 56 minutes.

Sevenoaks, meanwhile, wrapped up the victory with twenty minutes remaining when Pettman spilled Sprigett’s free kick right on the edge of the box and Rothwell was at the right place at the right time, tapping home the winner.

Pettman, however, made amends late on, making a double save to deny Rothwell and Hogarth.

“I’m pleased as much as we seemed to play out 90 minutes of football,” Sevenoaks Town’s joint-manager Derek Moore told after the game.

“The result was irrelevant really but it was a good work-out.”

He added: “We’ve certainly started the new season with a degree of confidence, more so than we finished last season.

“We have signed one or two quality players so we’re reasonably confident we’ll have a half decent season.”

Speaking about the captures of Springett, Fagan and Hogarth from Erith Town, Moore added: “They’re experienced, something that we missed last year and all three players have played for me in the past at Erith and I know them from old.

“I know the sort of job they can do for us, help bring some of the young lads through. Yes, I’m looking forward working with them again.”

* shall be bringing a preview to the opening day of the Kent League season later in the week.

Sevenoaks Town: Joe Skillman, Joe Hampshire (Andy Jarvis 73), Darren Pearson, Nick Reeves, Ryan Haskings, Paul Springett, Matt Fagan (Darren Hogarth 45) Frank Whitehead (Scott McGuire 70), Matthew Jones-Butler (Aaron Rothwell 66), Mike Bishop, Mike Cooke (Lee Aldridge 11).
Sub: Courtney Rayfield

Goals: Mike Bishop 17, Matt Fagan 21, Aaron Rothwell 70

Dover Athletic: Jordan Pettman, James Farrier, Craig Birchenough, Ryan Wilson (Matt Gilbert 65), Grant Bagley, Stephen Grant, Sean Armstrong (Glen Clarke 75), Liam Quinn, Joe Stoyles, Jack Tanner, Steve O’Brien.
Subs: Ian Batten, Kray Myers.

Goals: Craig Birchenough 39, Grant Bagley 56

Referee: Mr Steve Rowden (Rochester)
Assistants: Mr Damon Colvin & Mr Derek Cunningham


For those Dover Athletic fans that write in to complain about the lack of coverage - this is the reason.

This website has an excellent reputation with every club in Kent other than Bromley and Dover Athletic, who have refused me permission to attend their home matches.

But I would love to attend these two club’s home matches and give them the excellent publicity I give every other Kent club.

And I would like to publicly aologise to both clubs if past articles have caused offence and hope we can start afresh this season.