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Bath City (H)
Sat Aug 24
15:00

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Bath City (H)
Sat Aug 24 15:00
The Vanarama National League South
20th
2pts

Rebels lose season opener at Dover

| League
Att: 637
Dover Athletic
Smidmore (44), Wright (61, 70)
3 - 1
Slough Town
Hodges (75)
Christian Metcalfe
Slough kicked off the new season with their longest trip of the season in the league, travelling to the Crabble, Dover.

Manager Eddie Denton handed competitive debuts to Jake Whincup in goal and James Saulsbury at the back, as well as welcoming back Christian Metcalfe after he spent last year at Northwood.

The early exchanges were played out in the middle of the pitch with the Rebels pair of Metcalfe and Veli Hakki being the more dominant.

Dover's Craig Cloke was also playing a big part of the game with several buccaneering runs from the back. It was Cloke who had the first goalbound effort of the match, as Martin Moller's pass was cut out by the young centre back but his 30 yard drive was held well by Whincup.

Two minutes later it was Cloke again worrying the Slough goal as Dale Skelton's cut back corner was hammered just over the bar by the onrushing number 5. After the two early chances it was Slough who began to dominate.

Hakki fired a volley goalwards which was easily held by Paul Mullin, and then soon after the midfielder's through ball found Matt Miller who fired just over Mullin's crossbar. The away side continued to dominate the attacking play, Josias Carbon's curling cross headed down by Ian Hodges but again giving Mullin a simple save.

The lively Miller was then slipped through again by captain Steve Daly but the striker's lob skimmed the top of the net as it again sailed just over. Slough's best chance arguably came just a minute before the break as great work between Miller and Hodges led to the ball being laid off to Carbon whose powerful effort was pushed round the post by the agile Mullin.

As half time approached, Slough were hit by a sucker punch as Dover took the lead very much against the run of play. Chris Wright somehow managed to get away from Moller and Michael Murphy on the right and his low, swerving cross was missed by everyone before the onrushing Rob Smidmore hit the ball back from the direction it had come, past Whincup, and into the corner.

At the break, the away side could feel themselves very unlucky to be behind, but at this stage Slough fans had plenty of reasons to feel optimistic for the second half.

Once again Slough started quickly as Metcalfe, Moller and Daly all went close early on in the second period, the latter's header from a corner sailing inches wide of the left upright. However, Dover started to up their performance and the away side began to tire amid better passing from the home team. Just after the hour mark this pressure from Dover paid off as John Mead's cross should have been cleared by Moller but as he dwelt on the ball, Wright slid in and fired past Whincup to make it 2-0.

With twenty minutes remaining, Dover wrapped the game up as Wright scored his second of the match. Saulsbury and Daly tried hard to clear the danger but as the two centre backs got themselves in a muddle Wright stole the ball and fired an unstoppable 25 yard drive past Whincup and into the top corner.

They could have extended their lead further as Smidmore cut in from the left and fired a decent effort at goal but this time Whincup did well to hold on.

In fact the next and, as it would happen, last goal of the match fell to the Slough as they finally got the break they deserved. Hakki's corner was well flighted and Hodges got himself in front of Mullin to head home. Slough continued to fight, pushing forward whenever possible, but this left gaps in defence and both Wright and Shaun Welford could have extended the lead even further. The final chance of the match did fall to Slough, substitute Glen Harris' cut back finding Darron Wilkinson but his shot flew woefully wide.

So a new season starts with defeat. However, the performance seemed to deserve better and it was enough to give Slough fans hope that the team will be able to compete at this level throughout the season.

Dover Athletic Line up

Pat Mullin, James Farrier, James Rogers, Dale Skelton, Craig Cloke, Tom Hickman, Rob Smidmore (Michael Smissen, 83), Billy Bone (Micky Lane, 74), Shaun Welford, Chris Wright, John Mee (Danny Welch, 74). Subs not used: Shane Hamshare, Paul Rogers.

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