Dover 1-0 FC Halifax Town

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FC Halifax Town dropped back into the relegation zone as they lost 1-0 at Dover despite a battling display against the promotion-contenders.

A long trip to a side in fifth-place was hardly where Halifax would have chosen as their next destination in their battle to beat the drop, but they made a good fist of a difficult task, especially after falling behind to Nicky Deverdics’ eighth minute goal.

Halifax got better as the game went on, and after a disappointing first-half, could have taken a share of the spoils with a bit more luck, with Jordan Burrow heading against the bar.

Jim Harvey admitted three points against Boreham Wood on Tuesday was of more importance than a win here, and that’s even more vital now.

The excellent Deverdics, along with Ricky Miller, Stefan Payne and the injured Ricky Modeste, was one of Dover’s fab four Harvey identified before the game, and with good reason as it turned out.

Harvey felt a point would be a good return from the game, and that view was only reinforced when Deverdics put the hosts ahead after just eight minutes when his corner came back to him out wide before he cut in on his left foot and fired low and hard beyond Sam Johnson.

That took the tally of goals Deverdics had either scored or created in the league this season to 30, with 14 goals and 16 assists.

The midfielder then went close twice in the next three minutes, both times narrowly off target with long range shots, as Dover wasted little time in putting their surprise defeat at Boreham Wood behind them.

It wasn’t difficult to see why Dover had only failed to score once in their last 17 home outings as Town just about contained the three starters of that quartet, with Payne and Miller offering a dangerous combination of movement and pace.

It was slim pickings at the other end, with that old habit of conceding possession cheaply letting Halifax down when they tried to attack.

As a result, Deverdics was able to control proceedings from midfield, helping to restrict the supply to Richard Peniket and Burrow up-front.

Peniket appeared to be pushed when he jumped for a Kevin Roberts cross just before the half-hour mark, although there was no strong penalty appeal from the visitors.

The ball then fell for Burrow, but quickly ran away from him.

Halifax were mostly reliant on feeding off lofted balls forward, most of which were easily dealt with by the Dover defence.

For their part, the Town defence, which included the returning James Bolton but not the injured Matty Brown, had got to grips far better with their opponents as half-time approached, with Miller forced to drop deeper to get any time on the ball.

Town were still to register a shot, on or off target, by the time Bencherif’s deflected effort fell to Burrow inside the box after 36 minutes, but the ball bounced off him before he could control it.

Even when Halifax won their first corner just before half-time, Dover ended up breaking forward from it and forced Connor Hughes into a crucial clearance to deny Payne a clear chance at goal.

Town finally had their first shot when Kingsley James sent the ball flying straight at keeper Mitch Walker five minutes after the restart, shortly before Payne registered only Dover’s second effort on goal, which Johnson saved comfortably.

Peniket’s last involvement was to miss his kick six yards out under pressure from a Dover defender after the Dover keeper Walker had flapped at a header from Richard Orlu.

It was better from Halifax since the interval though as they made more inroads to the Dover defence, with Roberts next to go close with a curling left-foot shot after a neat one-two with Josh Macdonald.

Fellow substitute Shaquille McDonald then found Burrow with a cross in the 80th minute and the Town striker headed against the bar from five yards before Nicky Wroe’s shot was deflected over.

Dover: Walker, Magri, Raggett, Orlu, Kinnear, Bellamy, Deverdics, Parkinson, Braham-Barrett, Payne (Sterling 90), Miller (Ofori-Acheampong 87). Subs not used: Grimes, Marsh, Essam.

Scorer: Deverdics (8)

Shots on target: 2

Shots off target: 5

Corners: 8

Halifax: Johnson, Roberts, Bolton, Bencherif, McManus, Wroe, James, Hibbs, Peniket (J Macdonald 62), Hughes (S McDonald 75), Burrow. Subs not used: Porter, Fairhurst, Fazlic.

Shots on target: 1

Shots off target: 2

Corners: 6

Attendance: 1,027

Town man of the match: Hamza Bencherif