"It's the best it's been so far this season" - FC Halifax Town v Dover: Opposition Focus

We spoke to Matthew Panting from Kent Online for the lowdown on FC Halifax Town's opponents on Saturday.

By Tom Scargill
Friday, 18th February 2022, 8:59 am
Updated Friday, 18th February 2022, 9:00 am

An overall view of Dover's season so far?

While most clubs in recent seasons have moved from a part-time to full-time model, Dover have had to make the switch in reverse. It's been a tough time for boss Andy Hessenthaler who has not had the budget to compete with the teams in the bottom half of the table, let alone those chasing Football League glory. Ironically, Hessenthaler re-joined Dover from Eastleigh to make that progression to full-time status but it's gone full circle.

Why have they struggled so much this season on the pitch?

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Andy Hessenthaler (right)

Dover's campaign was always a struggle before a ball had been kicked - but not even the most pessimistic Whites fans could have predicted so much of a struggle. They started the campaign with a 12-point deduction after chairman Jim Parmenter refused to carry on playing during the 2020/21 season due to the lack of promised Covid funding. Adamant that he would not be taking out a loan to complete the season, Mr Parmenter instead called time on Dover's campaign in February and they started the new season cast adrift. Since then, it's been a long struggle and they're still in minus points even now.

What kind of shape do they come into the game in in terms of mood and morale?

It's the best it's been so far this season, albeit that may not be saying a lot at times. Dover beat Eastleigh at the end of January to register their only league win so far this season and followed it up with impressive displays against Southend and Stockport, only to go down to late goals on both occasions. The defensive resolve on display at Stockport was heartening to see with Dover playing over half the game with 10 men after a harsh red card for Myles Judd.

Who have been your stand out players so far this season and why?

It's been hard for any players to stand out in a season of struggle. Ryan Hanson has taken over the captain's armband since Sam Wood's departure recently and he is a homegrown midfielder who has returned to the club he represented as a youth-team player after spells at Crystal Palace and Hull.

Who will be your dangermen on Saturday and why?

Alfie Pavey is a striker on loan from National League South Maidstone but is well versed at this level, having left Barnet at the end of last season. Where Pavey goes, goals normally follow and that was certainly the case at Dartford when he was named National League South player of the year in 2017/18 Spells at Havant and Dover followed before he moved to Barnet in 2019, but a leg injury early on took time to get over. Pavey's scored four goals in 12 games for Dover, no other player has more to their name.

What is the team's style of play, what can Halifax expect to come up against?

In recent weeks, Dover boss Andy Hessenthaler has reverted to a deep-lying formation and looking to catch teams on the counter attack. There is pace in the team with on-loan King's Lynn forward Michael Gyasi. He wants his team to stay in games for longer periods, a 4-0 half-time scoreline at Solihull recently proving the final straw in any expansive approach. The problem they've had, however, is conceding late goals and maybe that's a result of being part-time in largely a full-time league.

Injuries/suspensions?

It was good to see TJ Bramble back involved against Torquay at the weekend after a long spell out with injury. Travis Gregory has also been absent since November which has been a blow for Dover. Myles Judd is still out suspended after Dover's appeal against his red card at Stockport was not upheld.

Likely line up and formation?

With Myles Judd banned, there's a chance for academy youngster George Wilkinson to impress again. Alfie Pavey will lead the line with support out wide from Michael Gyasi and Koby Arthur. On-loan Gillingham youngster Michael Woods features in midfield alongside Ryan Hanson and Wilkinson. Former Bromley defender Jake Goodman provides the experience at the back alongside former MK Dons and Colchester man Danny Collinge.