Dover Athletic are currently the only team to have been confirmed as being relegated from the Vamarama National League but will continue to play for pride by heading up north for the visit to Chesterfield this weekend.
Due to their financial problems during the pandemic, Dover were unable to partake for the vast majority of last season and as a result, were punished by being handed a -12 deduction for the start of the 2021/22 campaign. In addition to their points deduction, the club was also handed a £40,000 fine.
Despite the nightmare of a season that the club has faced, Dover have managed to go head-to-head with some of the league’s heavy-weights, only narrowly losing out to AFC Wrexham in an 11-goal thriller, whilst grabbing a game-of-the-season win over play-off hopefuls Boreham Wood during the Easter period. Now with nothing to lose, the club prepare to challenge a Chesterfield side who are looking to get back to winning ways.
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Given the punishment that was handed out to the club at the beginning of the season, Dover have faced an impossible challenge to compete in the National League. As shown with their record this season, the Whites have struggled to match the league for financial power.
Twenty-four games into the league season and Dover would collect their first win of the season. Back in January, the long-awaited moment came during a 1-0 win over Eastleigh FC, where an Alfie Pavey goal on the hour mark was enough to separate the two clubs.
Prior to the first of two wins this season, the club started the season with a 2-0 away defeat against Maidenhead United before narrowly losing out to Boreham Wood – who would later go on an impressive and exciting Emirates FA Cup run. The cause for concern would grow even stronger when the Whites lost nine straight games in a row, a run that would stretch from September 25 to November 23, before eventually grabbing a valuable point during a 1-1 draw against Yeovil Town. Misery would however persist after the visit of the Glovers as the club would go on to lose another seven consecutive fixtures before collecting their first three points of the campaign.
(11th September 2021)
(14th March 2020)
(3rd August 2019)
(6th April 2019)
(8th September 2018)
Surprisingly, given the gulf in history between these two sides, the Spireites have never beaten this weekend’s visitors. In five meetings, Dover have collected one win, whilst four of the five encounters have ended in stalemates.
Failing to beat the Whites, Chesterfield have also been kept at bay on three of the five occasions, having only scored two goals in the history against Dover. Only Scott Boden, during the 2-1 loss to the South Coast outfit; and Tom Denton, who netted from the penalty spot when the sides met in March 2019, can say that they have previously scored for the club when they have featured against league’s current bottom side.
The meeting earlier this season ended in a 0-0 draw. The result ended a three-game losing streak for Dover at the start of the campaign, following defeats to Maidenhead, Boreham Wood and Altrincham FC.
By Sam Plummer