Dover Athletic knew this season was going to be an uphill struggle, starting with a 12-point deduction and a £40,000 fine is never ideal. The club have gone back to being part time and it has shown with no win in 11 now and manager Andy Hessenthaler picking from a bare bones squad with nine players currently on the treatment table. A small chorus of boos could be heard in amongst the clapping from the majority of Dover fans at full time on Saturday. Chairman Jim Parmenter spoke to the media following the defeat in a bid to rally the fans behind the club.
“I thought it was pretty disgusting! I think the fans should be getting behind the team. What this town and community needs to do is get behind their football club. They know the trials and tribulations we’ve been through, for what I believe were the right reasons.”
Barnet have also been facing their struggles as they battle bravely against relegation with the club in severe financial ruin due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The week began with Dover hosting Aldershot in an early season six-pointer with hopes of kickstarting their miserable season. Alas the search for a win went on when Toby Edser scored the winner on 74 minutes after a mazy run through the Dover defence. Barnet didn’t have much luck either as they had to settle for a 1-1 draw away to Kings Lynn after taking the lead in the 4th minute.
Coming into this fixture Barnet were unbeaten in three and had hopes of making four whilst Dover had suffered three defeats on the spin including a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Grimsby, not your ideal away day. The last time these two sides met Dover came out 3-1 victors thanks to a Will De Haviland brace, Dover fans were hoping history might repeat itself.
Unfortunately for the Whites it took Barnet just ten minutes to open the scoring at the Crabble, Ephron Mason-Clark made a neat run down the right, with his cross-finding Ben Richards-Everton. He nodded the ball back across to Mason Bloomfield who found the net from close range. At 1-0 to the visitors, groans and moans could be heard all around the ground.
It wasn’t long into the 2nd half when Barnet doubled their lead thanks to Daniel Powell following a cool finish past the on-rushing Adam Parkes. With the score 2-0 to the visitors after 59 minutes, chants of ‘We Want Hess Out!’ could be heard from the home supporters end.
Within five minutes Dover found themselves back in the game thanks to on loan Striker Aaron Cosgrave. The AFC Wimbledon loanee received the ball 20-yards from goal and with what can only be described as sensational footwork left Harry Taylor in his wake and fizzed an effort into the top corner 2-1. Hope for the Whites and chants of ‘We Want Hess In!’ could be heard, such a fickle bunch football fans.
With 27 minutes remaining Dover were certainly rueing their earlier missed chances, Koby Arthur was dancing round Barnet defenders for fun in the first half and if it wasn’t for Aston Oxborough’s top draw save to pick his effort out of the top corner it would have been a completely different game. Without the Norwich loanee Dover could of found themselves 2-1 up when on 23 minutes Matt Bentley had a low driven shot excellently saved, a mad scramble ensued but The Bee’s cleared their lines.
Being part time means competing in the last 15/20 minutes is extremely tough, with the club only training twice a week fitness has been a constant issue. A few stray passes and poor decisions never help when you’re chasing a game, substitute Khale Da Costa found himself in that situation when he was free at the back post but could only direct his header into the hands of Oxborough. Dover gave it everything they had and in the 94th minute a Danny Collinge long throw found the towering Jake Goodman, but his header was well saved. Moments later the fat lady sang, and it was all over, Dover had no win in 11 games.
In his post-match press conference Andy Hessenthaler really laid on thick the issues surrounding the club.
“We’ve got two players playing for nothing out there, just putting it out there- Yannis Drais and Matt Bentley are non-contract players, fair play to them they’re not getting a penny.”
Based on Saturday’s performances you wouldn’t of known.
Dover are currently working on a budget of around £300,000 this season, Kent rivals Bromley have a budget of £1.4 million, some players in this league are on £5,000 a week the kind of wages you find in League One and the Championship. Parmenter is hoping for a source of investment into the club to maintain its future.
“We need volunteers, we need investment, and we need people to take an interest and get behind the club. What we don’t need is people criticizing the manager, the staff, the club or players on social media or in the stands.”
Sources say he values the club at around £3 million but with businesses getting back on its feet after the Covid-19 pandemic it will be hard to find someone to put their hands into their very large pockets and stump up a couple of million pounds for an ailing National League club.
Barnet interim Head Coach Dean Brennan spoke to Barnet club media after his side continued their unbeaten run and found themselves up into 18th in the National League table.
“Delighted with the victory, I think we should have won the game much more comfortably but no games in this Division are easy. We created plenty of chances which is a positive but I’m a bit disappointed we conceded.”
Dover’s season has now turned into an impossible task, they are 17 points from safety, no win in 11 and a fan base slowly turning against the establishment. You can’t blame the fans for their reaction though, in any other situation Hessenthaler would be packing his bags as Parmenter rushed in a new man to try and save the sinking ship.