This was a heart-breaking result for North Ferriby and it leaves them anchored at the foot of the Vanarama National League table some seven points from safety.
Dover were delighted to go away with all three points in a game that they could well have lost. It was an entertaining match for the most part. Although all the goals came in the seconds-half, most of the excitement happened in the first.
Ferriby were the better side for much of the game although Dover always looked the more threatening. Ricky Miller and Ross Lafayette gave Ferriby’s back four a torrid time but the home defenders stuck to their task with a dogged determination.
The game was open and end-to-end and Dover probably should have led at the interval given the threat they carried.
Top scorer Ricky Miller should have put Dover ahead after 7 minutes but his penalty, after a foul on Lafayette by Ben Middleton, was well-saved by Rory Watson.
Ferriby had a good penalty shout denied after Curtis Bateson was barged in the back. Interestingly, a similar challenge on the edge of the area in the second-half led to a Ferriby’s goal.
A minute later, Ferriby’s Reece Thompson forced Steve Arnold into a good save as the home side pressed forward.
Miller forced Watson in to a number of fairly comfortable saves throughout the half. His ability to twist, turn and hold-off defenders could not be faulted. He also has pace to spare and defenders were often left with less time than they would have liked to play the ball.
To be fair, Dover’s defence were often forced in to hurried clearances. Joe Healey and Nicky Deverdics kept Dover moving forward but they palyed a largely long-ball game to capitalise on the pace of Lafayette and Miller.
Ferriby probably had the better of the final 15 minutes but it was Aswad Thomas who almost put Dover in front. His floated cross deceived everybody and hit the inside of the far post.
Ferriby opened the scoring after 49 minutes when Bateson hit a free-kick from the edge of the area just over the wall and inside Arnold’s right-hand post.
The lead lasted just 7 minutes. Watson mis-punched a clearance and the ball finally reached Healey who was unmarked at the far post for a simple tap-in.
Miller was somewhat quieter in the second-half but he remained a threat with his control and ability to create a shooting opportunity.
The winner came after 71 minutes following another lapse in the home defence. This time, it was Thomas who had a simple far-post tap in although it appeared that Jake Skelton was fouled as he attempted to clear the ball.
There was little of note in goal-chances for the remainder of the game. Ferriby worked hard but the match lost much of its’ tempo after Dover’s second goal.
Ferriby manager Steve Housham was disappointed,
“That was very hard to take,” he said. “Both goals were avoidable but you get punished for errors at this level. The commitment of the players was there to see. I thought we were the better side in the first-half but allowed ourselves to be bullied at times by a strong side in the second.”
Ferriby now face an uphill battle over the closing weeks but Dover manager Chris Kinnear believes they have the spirit and attitude to escape the drop. Everybody at Ferriby will be hoping he is right. The games at home to Lincoln City on Tuesday and at Guiseley on Saturday are now more crucial than ever.
NFU: Rory Watson; Rory Watson, Sam Topliss , Ben Middleton, Jake Skelton, Taron Hare, Matt Dixon, Robbie Tinkler, Danny Emerton (Matty Templeton 63), Ryan Kendall (Sam Cosgrove 75), Curtis Bateson (Ross Armstrong 85), Reece Thompson
Subs not used: Jordan Cooke, Jordan Douglas
Dover Athletic: Steven Arnold, Sam Magri, Aswad Thomas, Connor Essam, Richard Orlu, Ricky Modeste, Ricky Miller (Tyrone Sterling 90+5),, Jamie Grimes, Ross Lafayette (Moses Emmanuel 80), Joe Healey (Mitchell Pinnock 89), Nicky Deverdics
Subs not used: Bondz N’Gala, Jack Parkinson