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Monday 03 January 2005
Bryco Cup

Dover Athletic    1 - 2    AFC Wimbledon
Tom Hickman (71)
  (32) Andy Frost
(66) Robert Ursell
 Paul Hyde 1 Paul Smith 
 Dean Readings 2 Jay Conroy 
 Nick Grime 3 Ryan Gray ( 82) 
 Dean Palmer 4 Antony Howard ( 35) 
( 68)  Jude Sterling 5 Steve Butler 
 Daniel Braithwaite 6 Gavin Bolger 
 Shane Hamshare 7 Robert Ursell (sub 73) 
 Gavin Rose 8 Chris Gell (sub 78) 
(sub 70)  Chris Wright 9 Richard Butler ( 48) 
( 45)  Victor Renner 10 Andy Frost (sub 90) 
 James Rogers 11 Gareth Graham 
( 77) (sub 70)  Tom Hickman 12 Leon McDowall (sub 90) 
 Paul Rogers 13 James Marriott 
 Sam Vallance 14 Steve Gibson 
 James Gregory 15 Wes Goggin (sub 73) 
 Ricky Spiller 16 Jon-Barrie Bates (sub 78) (sub 78) 

Match report

A fiercely fought and tense cup match finally saw the Dons win through 2-1 after a bruising encounter at the Crabble against Dover.

Dave Anderson opted for a 4-4-2 formation, with Jay Conroy and Ryan Gray at full-backs, Gavin Bolger at right-wing, Rob Ursell on the left and Gareth Graham and Chris Gell in the middle of the park. Andy Frost was preferred to Leon McDowell up front and Gell assumed the captain's armband.

Dover exerted the early pressure, putting Paul Smith to the test with four corners in the first three minutes. Having failed to claim the first, he was relieved to see Andy Frost head it off the line, but made amends with a fine diving save from the second. Dover concluded this spell with a freekick-induced goalmouth scramble, but the Dons weathered the early storm.

They then made it into the opposition half for their first attack. Paul Hyde came out and dropped the ball under a challenge from Richard Butler, but the ball was cleared before Chris Gell could capitalise.

Thereafter a combative end-to-end game continued in physical fashion, with Paul Smith the busier of the two goalkeepers, coming out well to claim some swirling crosses and lofted through balls. Dover seemed to have decided to target the Dons youngster and crosses, freekicks and long throws were all slung under the bar. But Smith proved equal to the test.

On 32 minutes, a touch of Frost broke the deadlock. Richard Butler nipped in front of his man in the penalty area and found his striking partner with a cute lay-off. Frost didn't miss a beat as he fired a rocket across Hyde to make the net bulge.

Antony Howard was then shown a deserved yellow card for a late tackle on ex-Wimbledon man Renner on the halfway line, but Wimbledon held firm until half-time in the face of further aerial bombardment.

In injury time, Renner skipped down the right wing and found Wright free in the area, but the Dover striker could only balloon a shot into the air. Smith came out to punch the ball behind under a hefty challenge. One corner was cleared behind and from the second, Smith was fouled again. Renner was booked for protesting the decision.

Dover threw everything up to and including the kitchen sink at the Dons at the start of the second half. Once more the Dons stood up to the challenge, with Smith continuing to come out well to claim crosses and Steve Butler marshalling the back four effectively. Smith was nearly surprised by a Grime snapshot from the edge of the box, but reacted well to claw it over the bar. The corner just eluded Renner at the back post.

Having been under the cosh, the Dons mustered their first attack of note on the hour mark with an excellent flowing move on the break. Howard won the ball calmly in the area, walked it out of defence and found Frost on the halfway line. He knocked the ball out wide for Ursell, whose slide rule pass sent Bolger up the inside right channel. His cross was blocked for a corner. As Hyde flapped, Frost looked for his second goal of the game, but his effort was deflected high over the bar by a defender. Hyde was awarded a free-kick for a foul from the second corner and Dover regrouped to pour forward once more.

But the next break saw the Dons extend their lead. Ursell whipped in a vicious left-wing cross aiming for the head of Frost. Both the Dons frontman and the defender failed to get a touch, but their lunges forward distracted Hyde and the ball bounced into the far corner of the net for 2-0.

The lead was pegged back almost immediately as substitute Tom Hickman converted with pretty much his first touch. A corner was swung deep into the area and the initial header cannoned back off the post but bounced in off the Dover player on the goal-line as Smith was beaten for the first time.

An atrocious back-pass almost gifted Dover an equaliser as Smith was sold horribly short. He was rounded by the attacker, but his pull-back couldn?t be turned in by his waiting team-mates. Hickman then rounded off an eventful seven minutes on the pitch by having his name taken for a late lunge on Gell. The skipper for the day was stretchered off to be replaced by Jon-Barrie Bates.

Dover engineered another series of free-kicks and corners, but the Dons defence repelled further white waves. Three players were well offside on 84 minutes before the ball was tapped into the net, but the whistle had long gone.

With minutes remaining some good work upfront by Richard Butler won the Dons a corner. As it was swung back into the box it was nodded behind off the head of Steve Butler, but the second corner was hacked away. Steve Butler, Bates and Bolger then all won the ball well in midfield with fine tackles, before Richard Butler was crudely bundled off the ball by the byline, but no freekick was forthcoming from the referee.

The game went into injury-time with the redoubtable Dons still standing firm. Hickman blazed over at the back post with a good chance to drag his side back on terms. But hearts remained in mouths as the referee found more than eight minutes of injury time from somewhere. Richard Butler found a reserve of energy to harry Hyde into shanking a clearance off the pitch and earn the Dons defence some respite as five o-clock neared with no sign of the final whistle.

Finally even the referee decided enough was enough and drew an enthralling encounter to a close. Make no mistake, this was an awesome team effort, with the nerveless Paul Smith and the indefatigable pairing of Steve Butler and Antony Howard deserving of special mention for coping so well under the battery of Dover attacks for so much of the game. Perhaps a bit of a smash and grab raid, but a battling performance brimming with pride and endeavour meant the Dons deservedly completed a cup double over Dover to march into the Fourth Round.

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