Saturday, 27 November 2010

Tonbridge 1 Kingstonian 1

Match 36/10/854 - Saturday, 27 November 2010 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (0) 1 May 65
Kingstonian (1) 1 Gray 38
Att. 2,519

Entrance: £10
Programme: £2
Mileage: 26/5,436

Another highly entertaining afternoon with the Angels. Freezing cold, it would have been so much easier to sit in front of the box with the fire going and watch Andy Murray’s titanic struggle with Rafael Nadal or England’s Rugby international against the Springboks. As always I chose the football and, as has been the case recently, was well rewarded with a competitive match.

Kingstonian, third in the table, played their part but it was Tonbridge that made most of the running throughout the game. In the first half chances were few and far between with the home side threatening but not really testing the Kings’ keeper, Rob Tolfrey. So it was something of a surprise when the visitors took the lead on 38 minutes. Whilst I was collecting the teas to counter the cold, Jay May was penalised for high feet, an offence that wasn’t agreed with by those I was getting tea for. Back in time to watch the Kings’ Matt Gray curl the free kick around the wall and into the net off the underside of the bar. Buoyed by their success, Kingstonian applied their first period of pressure until the half-time whistle, which I’ve no doubt Tommy Warrilow was pleased to hear.

The home side began the second half with renewed purpose and once again dominated proceedings but there was always the nagging doubt that on the counter-attack Kingstonian could grab a second goal. Lee Worgan was forced into a couple of saves before Tonbridge gained a deserved equaliser in the 65th minute. Kingstonian spurned two chances to clear the danger, the second of which fell invitingly to Jay May who rifled a shot into the centre of the goal from 15 yards.

Tonbridge pressed hard for a winner and they thought they had it in time added on when a header from Scott Kinch found the net but was ruled out for offside.

Barnet 1 Gillingham 2

Match 35/10/853 - Tuesday, 23 November 2010 - League One

Barnet (1) 1 Gallen 31
Gillingham (0) 2 Whelpdale 59, Lee 65
Att. 2,519

Entrance: £16
Programme: £3
Mileage: 130/5,410

Match Report

Like most things in life certain tasks can be difficult in the first instance but once you’ve had a couple of attempts they become child’s play. So it is with Gillingham, winning away is now too damn easy! It was the London Bus analogy, nothing for 18 months and two wins in four days, this time victory over old boss Mark Stimson’s Barnet, in front of an away following that amounted to 1,206 in a crowd of just 2,519.

Stimson, magnanimous in defeat, called the support a fantastic fanbase and remarked that he was surprised at the lack of abuse that he took; he obviously suffers from selective hearing as some of it was pretty tasteless from where I was standing.

Another long-standing record came to an end as Gillingham came from behind to win an away match for the first time since January 2009 when they triumphed 3-1 at Port Vale after being a goal down at the break. On this occasion they ended the first half a goal down, but two quality strikes from on-loan Posh pair Chris Whelpdale and Charlie Lee turned the game on its head.

If the mass following where speaking the same language as myself they were eulogising over the difference these two have made to Gillingham in the last fortnight. Whelpdale looked the part in the defeat against Crewe but Lee, forced into a central defensive position following the sending-off of Callum Davies, didn’t make an immediate impression. But the two games following and in his rightful position, what a good player he looks and his goal, that turned out to be the winner, was quite sublime.

In an even first half that saw chances for both sides, it was a goal from the veteran Kevin Gallen that earned the Bees a half time lead. On the half-hour Kevin Maher was robbed in midfield by a robust challenge from Gallen that left the midfielder claiming a foul, the striker strode on and his pass found Mark Marshall. The winger’s shot was parried by Alan Julian but the rebound was bundled home by Gallen who had continued his run. With both goalkeeper and scorer on the floor the ball seemed to strike knees, arms and shoulders of both or either player before trickling over the goal line.

It was such a scruffy goal in stark contrast to a beautiful flowing move ten minutes earlier from the visitors that involved Lee, Whelpdale and Akinfenwa and culminated with Lee shooting into the side netting. As the net rippled all the Gillingham support along the length of the pitch celebrated the goal that never was, which was a shame because it would have been a classic.

Gillingham scored twice in five minutes around the hour mark slightly against the run of play. Marshall and former Gillingham triallist Jordan Parkes brought a good saves out of Julian before Akinfenwa, leading the line exceptionally well, laid off a pass to Whelpdale who smashed home a shot from the edge of the box. This time it was the Gillingham following behind the goal that were optically deceived as they were slow to react as the ball came back out of the net as quickly as it went in.

Within five minutes Gillingham were in front. Charlie Lee ran at the Barnet defence from inside his own half, as they backed off his low shot from the edge of the box found the bottom corner. This time nobody was fooled and the celebrations began.

Barnet pressed for an equaliser but it was Gillingham that came closest in the later stages. Cody McDonald, who had no luck on the night, forcing a decent save out of Jake Cole.

Two in a row, victory over Stimmo, but it was the size of the Gillingham support that turned this visit to Underhill into a virtual home match that will be the abiding memory.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Oxford United 0 Gillingham 1

Match 34/10/852 - Saturday, 20 November 2010 - League One

Oxford United (0) 0
Gillingham (1) 1 McDonald 40
Att. 7,144

Entrance: £18.50
Programme: £3
Mileage: 220/5,280

Match Report

There was a Scally on the pitch, he thought the run was over, it is now.

For any neutral at the Kassam Stadium this was just another game. Not particularly high on quality, even allowing for its Fourth Division status, a game won by virtue of dreadful defending rather than a spectacular goal, but for the 768 Gillingham fans present the significance of the occasion will rank up there with the Halifax game in 1993 and the Wembley appearances. The sore that was the lack of an away win since victory at Rochdale on 2nd May 2009, a run that had lasted 34 games, was being picked over by all and sundry and was in danger of becoming a lasting scar.

The agony that was the four minutes of time added, that somehow stretched its way to six, was replaced by raw emotion from players and supporters alike as the referee finally brought to an end not only this fixture against Oxford United but 18 months of frustration.

Out of the debris of Dover came three loan players and the first shoots of recovery in last week’s defeat by Crewe and as I looked down on the celebrating players, I noticed Charlie Lee clapping his appreciation to the fans but appearing to wonder what all the fuss was about.

I got a sense that something special was about to happen with the announcement that Simon King was on the bench. King has been missing for almost the entire length of this away drought and his appearance was enough to convince me that both runs would end together. King caused a bit of worry when he returned to the bench during the warm up and removed boot and sock, but it seemed it was nothing more than to adjust the strapping around his ankle.

But, of course, Gillingham cannot do anything the easy way. In a half as one-sided as the international in the week, the visitors should have reached the half time whistle out of sight as chances came and went with reckless abandon and it took a woefully short back pass to the goalkeeper from Jake Wright that was seized upon by Cody McDonald, who rounded the keeper and slotted into an empty net. Dare Gills fans start to dream, as this was the first half time lead on away soil since Charlton in March?

Gillingham opened with McDonald exposing the home side’s central defensive lack of pace and Wright cynically brought him down to earn a yellow card. Shades of last week’s sending off of Callum Davies, the inconsistency is shouting itself loud and clear. Five minutes later, McDonald was once again sent clear but his touch let him down and Ryan Clarke was able to smother the ball.

A series of half-chances fell to the Gills as they dominated the game in an impressive fashion with only the decisive finish lacking before McDonald’s opener. Such was their superiority that Alan Julian was only once called into action in the first half.

Oxford emerged for the second half and a flea in the ear had the desired effect as they controlled the second half adding to the Gills fans’ nerves. Julian was forced to tip over a Simon Clist free kick early on and was further tested by Alfie Potter and Steve McLean. Doubts were now beginning to creep in as our favourites were failing to have any significant retention of the ball. My thoughts centred on Gillingham literally not knowing how to win away from home, they needed to keep the ball but continually gave it back to their hosts.

The away support were calling for the full-time whistle a clear five minutes before its due time and the signal for four extra minutes were greeted with a groan of dismay. Spiller ran into the box and was brought down, or more accurately, looked for a penalty that he wasn’t going to get. There were a couple of harmless efforts from the home side before the referee brought down the curtain to a chorus of boos from the home fans as their side is now on a run of their own, five straight defeats. But those were joyously upstaged by the delight of the Gillingham faithful and their team and staff, all wildly celebrating their success.

It is over, we no longer need to talk of mythical monkeys and we are on a new run, one away game without defeat.

Friday, 19 November 2010

England 1 France 2

Match 33/10/851 - Wednesday, 17 November 2010 - International

England (0) 1 Crouch 86
France (1) 2 Benzema 16 Valbuena 55
Att. 85,495

Entrance: £15
Programme: £6
Mileage: 100/5,060

Match Report

France were the one nation that came home from South Africa with even less dignity intact than England. The players behaviour following the expulsion of Nicolas Anelka led to debate in the French Parliament, suspensions and the removal of Raymond Domenech. Laurent Blanc was hired to lead the recovery and on the evidence of Wednesday’s international they have progressed much, much further along that road than their hosts.

I cannot remember, especially at the new Wembley, watching a team outplay England quite like the French did during the first half. Mitigating factors were the loss of several first choice players, but the French were also missing the likes of Frank Ribery. Fabio Capello chose to introduce Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll to the senior set-up and Keiron Gibbs was given his first start. Unfortunately for Henderson, he was swamped in a midfield that was totally dominated by the very impressive Samir Nasri, Yoann Gourcuff and Florent Malouda. England’s makeshift back line with Phil Jagielka appearing ridiculously uncomfortable at right back were sliced apart with by a text book one-two between Malouda and Karim Benzema that allowed the Real Madrid striker to drill a shot between Ben Foster and his near post.

As the French midfield dominated, England’s spent 45 minutes chasing shadows. Gareth Barry looks less an international midfielder with every game, Henderson looked lost and the wingers Theo Walcott and James Milner suffered from a lack of service normally supplied by the absent Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole.

Andy Carroll, at least, can look back on his first cap with a sense of satisfaction. As the wingers were seeing very little of the ball, he similarly suffered from a lack of service, but he dropped deeper to collect the ball to run at defenders. His great strength, his aerial ability, was evident but only amounted to a couple of headers that were comfortable saves for Hugo Lloris. Carroll was substituted to warm applause after 70 minutes and when Steven Gerrard was replaced by Peter Crouch on 85 minutes it was ironic that the self-proclaimed last resort striker took only a minute to cushion a volley into the net for England’s consolation.

Just where are we at with Capello? Technically, we are no match for the better nations of the world. France might have been seen to be fragile following the World Cup, but they were way ahead of England in this department. Is that Capello’s fault, perhaps not. He has limited time with the players, who are entrenched in the hurly-burly but technically deficient Premiership. But France were also tactically much better than England and this is where Capello should be held to account. England actually looked defensively sounder in the second half when Rio Ferdinand was withdrawn. This is no reflection on the England skipper, but with Micah Richards slotting in at right back and Jagielka occupying his natural position the balance was improved. So why start with players out of their regular positions, Capello takes the blame.

The Sun produced one of their mischievous headlines, reproduced here, and have been on Capello’s case since the World Cup. We have taken small steps forward following the Wally with the Brolly, but is the Prat in the Hat any better than Sven, it is certainly difficult to mount a case for that argument.

Defeat is not the end of the world on this occasion. This was a friendly international and had England been able to call on the services of Ashley Cole, John Terry and Wayne Rooney it is conceivable that the result may have been different. But the gulf in quality exposed a lack of depth in the squad that is not going to be remedied short term and is unlikely to be remedied during the tenure of Capello.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Gillingham 1 Crewe Alexandra 3

Match 32/10/850 - Saturday, 13 November 2010 - League Two

Gillingham (0) 1 Whelpdale 52
Crewe Alexandra (2) 3 Moore 38, Donaldson 45, Miller 70
Att. 5,292

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3
Mileage: 45/4,960

Match Report

It is a well worn phrase that under pressure managers trundle out, “that when at the bottom of the table, the rub of the green doesn’t go your way”, it can often be heard as a whinge. On Saturday, Gillingham might not have deserved anything, but they certainly had none of the rub.

Three new loan signings and a 17 year-old debutant in the centre of defence were introduced as Andy Hessenthaler set about repairing the damage inflicted by last week’s FA Cup embarrassment at the hands of Dover. Ultimately a spirited effort ended in defeat by Crewe Alexandra and left the club on the very edge of the relegation zone, above the line by goal difference.

Callum Davies, youth team captain, pressed into the side in the absence of the injured Matt Lawrence made a bright start to his debut, won some important headers and generally looked comfortable in the face of an attack that has scored plenty this season. But on 28 minutes a through ball left the youngster exposed in a one-on-one situation with the pacy Clayton Donaldson, who was getting clear before being brought down. My first impression was that he had to go, but television viewing has shown that loanee Callum Kennedy was getting round as cover. This viewpoint was given further credit on Sunday as Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic committed a near identical foul but was spared the red card by the proximity of Ashley Cole. It is regularly argued that the Premiership’s top four get dealt a better hand by referees but it showed the sheer inconsistency of decisions. The kid was distraught and was comforted by Alex players as well as his team mates as he left the field in tears.

Crewe had started the game brightly with a Luke Murphy chip catching Alan Julian off his line and fortunate to see the ball rebound from the bar. From the start the lively Donaldson was copping also sorts of abuse for his Mohican-style haircut, and once he was involved in the sending off the decibels were increased but he was going to have the last laugh.

Crewe hit the woodwork again before they opened the scoring in the 35th minute with a stroke of good fortune. A cross from Matt Tootle evaded the head of the second of the loanees, Charlie Lee and, caught by surprise, the ball literally struck Byron Moore on the head and found its way into the corner of the net.

Gillingham reacted well to the set-back, Cody McDonald had a goal ruled out for offside before keeper Rhys Taylor made good stops from the third of the loanees, Chris Whelpdale and Kevin Maher.

On the stroke of half time, Donaldson exacted revenge on his detractors getting on the end of a pass from Moore and steering the ball past Julian to double the visitors advantage.

Gillingham set about retrieving the situation from the outset of the second half and Whelpdale forced Taylor into another fine save before he met a Chris Palmer corner at the far post with a header to looped into the far corner.

Adebayo Akinfenwa, having his most effective game for the club, saw a header once more acrobatically tipped over by the Chelsea loanee, Taylor as the home side brought the best out of a crowd inflated to 5,200 by cut-price ticket offers.

Unfortunately the need for attacking intention was eventually going to lead to the home side being caught by a counter attack and a single pass forward allowed Shaun Miller a run on goal and he finished expertly from just inside the box to kill off the game.

The final whistle didn’t bring about a torrent of boos as the vast majority had recognised the spirit that had been displayed in adversity. The loan players, Chris Whelpdale in particular, had made decent debuts and the likes of Barry Fuller and Tony Sinclair recovered some of the faith lost in last week’s debacle.

Luck, good or bad, doesn’t last forever and someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, Gillingham’s will turn for the better. They sit now at an all-time low of 90th position in the Football League during the reign of Paul Scally. With two upcoming fixtures away from home it is not inconceivable that the ultimate indignity of 92nd place may be attained, perhaps Lady Luck will see otherwise.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Tonbridge 1 Margate 1

Match 31/10/849 - Tuesday, 9 November 2010 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (0) 1 Browning 60
Margate (1) 1 Stubbs 10
Att. 326

Entrance: £10
Programme: £2
Mileage: 26/4,915

While Arsenal are hailed as the outstanding example of the “way football should be played”, the Gunners fans that I know would also add that it would be nice to win the odd trophy here and there. The point being that while they appreciate the quality of the football on show, it is still success that matters no matter how it is achieved.

What this has to do with Tonbridge v Margate is that at this present time when supporting and watching Gillingham is as much fun as wet weekend on Romney Marsh, watching Tonbridge is a real pleasure, and why, because they are winning.

Similar to a couple of weeks ago at Sutton, this was a miserable night when it would have been a lot easier to have parked the rear end in front of the box and checked the scoreline on the internet at 10 o’clock, but the effort was well rewarded with an entertaining game.

Ultimately, Tonbridge enjoyed the greater part of the possession, probably deserved to win the match, but I had the feeling that as the away team, Margate had played their part in the entertainment and warranted the point they went away with.

The visitors took an early lead when James Pinnock’s cross is only partially cleared as far as Dan Stubbs, whose shot was hit straight into the ground and over the head of Lee Worgan.

It took Tonbridge half-an-hour to get into the game in which time Margate forced a succession of corners and generally held sway. From 30 minutes onwards, Rory Hill, in particular, started to influence the game and chances were made for Jamie England, Jake Beecroft and Frannie Collin, all of which were dealt with comfortably by ex-Angels keeper, Jamie Turner.

From the outset of the second half the home side were dominant. Collin had a shot saved by Turner, Claude Seanla acrobatically shot over and Sonny Miles should have converted a header before the equaliser finally arrived on the hour. Following a tame shot by Collin the ball was deflected into the path of Lee Browning who won a crunching tackle and found his feet to lob the stranded Turner.

The remainder of the match had a decent ebb and flow about it. Rather than folding under pressure from the home side, Margate responded well and created a similar number of chances. Tonbridge might have won the game in injury time but Danny Walder sent through by Lewis Taylor, making his debut for the club after a long injury lay-off, saw his shot smothered by the advancing Turner.

As said, an evening when effort was made worthwhile, but it was still good to get back into the car and get the heater going!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Gillingham 0 Dover Athletic 2

Match 30/10/848 - Saturday, 6 November 2010 - FA Cup 1st Round

Gillingham (0) 0
Dover Athletic (2) 2 Birchall 18, I'Anson 28
Att. 7,454

Entrance: £15
Programme: £3
Mileage: 46/4,889

Match report comes from Dover

From the moment Fat Boy Slim and Hells Bells drew the numbers 19 and 70 from the velvet bag there has been a sense of inevitability about the outcome of this First Round Tie. For Dover, it was, in chairman Jim Parmenter’s words, compensation and for their fans who filled the Brian Moore Stand it was revenge.

The events of the summer left a bad taste in the mouth at Crabble and there were more than a few of the Priestfield faithful who felt a bit sheepish about the way Hessenthaler’s appointment was executed. So coming into the game on the back of poor results the sense of retribution was trumpeted from all corners.

And so it came to pass . . .

On the day, for whatever reason, Dover came to Gillingham with more passion, more hunger, more skill and left thoroughly deserving of their 2-0 victory while the home side were left red-faced, humiliated with the wrath of their fans ringing in their ears.

Where Gillingham had the hapless, no hopeless, John Nutter, Dover had the excellent Tom Wynter, released by Gillingham in the summer. Where Gillingham had a fragile central defence, Dover had the absolutely magnificent Olly Schultz and Rob Gillman and while Cody McDonald struggled to make an impression, Dover striker Adam Birchall scored a classic FA Cup goal. Finally, when Gillingham mounted a second half recovery effort, Ross Flitney stood firm with a series of saves.

Dover took the lead on 18 minutes, the only Gillingham player who could leave the ground with his head held high Jack Payne lost possession in midfield, Birchall cut in from the right and unleashed a 30 yard shot into the top corner that had Alan Julian clutching thin air.

Ten minutes later Dover doubled their lead in somewhat controversial circumstances. Elliott Charles clearly handled the ball following Julian’s parry of Harry Baker’s shot, the ball fell to Luke I’Anson who drove the ball into the net. It was dubious but no more than the non-leaguers deserved.

As much as Gillingham pressured during the second half the saves that Flitney made were more of the routine variety than the sensational. With 20 minutes remaining Baker was sent clear and Nutter was forced to bring him down for the final humiliation of a red card. For Nutter this has been a torrid week, taken apart by an ageing Gareth Ainsworth on Tuesday and run ragged by a non league winger, Harry Baker, on Saturday. Forgive Tom Wynter if he thought “was I really that bad”?

The last manager to face Paul Scally following defeat at the hands of non-league opposition was Neale Cooper after defeat at Burscough. He didn’t survive. Hess probably will, he doesn’t want to resign and Scally will not want to sack him, financially as well as personally. Next Saturday, back in League action, Crewe Alexandra, themselves dumped out of the Cup at Tamworth, are the visitors. For everybody, but Hessenthaler principally, a reaction needs to be seen. Paul Scally cannot allow this situation to worsen, the trap door bears no favours.

On Tuesday, further down the M2, as Dover supporters gather (not in their thousands, I would guess!) for their Blue Square South game against Dartford, one word will be heavy in the conversation . . . Revenge!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Gillingham 0 Wycombe Wanderers 2

Match 29/10/847 - Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - League Two

Gillingham (0) 0
Wycombe Wanderers (1) 2 Ainsworth 23, Betsy 49
Att. 4,076

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3
Mileage: 46/4,843

Match Report

This was a real shocker that will have Gillingham fans looking over their shoulder, not just at a league table that sees them just two points from the relegation positions, but also the potential of a hugely embarrassing FA Cup defeat at home to the club that Andy Hessenthaler walked away from in June, Dover Athletic.

Wycombe Wanderers came to Priestfield in good form, whilst Gillingham’s confidence was fragile to say the least. Once the visitors had sliced the Gillingham defence apart on 23 minutes allowing Gareth Ainsworth to open the scoring, there was only going to be one winner in the contest and Wycombe went on to thoroughly outplay their hosts.

Ainsworth is now 37 years of age, he has plied his trade for the best part of 20 years outside of the top flight and had a spell as caretaker manager of Queens Park Rangers on two occasions in the last couple of years. Last night, he looked like a 17 year old as he pissed past John Nutter time and time again. It was satisfyingly respectful that on his substitution with seconds remaining he was warmly applauded from the field by the home support as well as the small knot of Wycombe fans.

The defeat tumbles Gillingham to 20th position in League Two, their lowest for 15 years. Any confidence that remained ebbed away with the opening goal and the level of ineptitude was quite frightening. Only Alan Julian, who kept the score down to two; Cody McDonald, and to a lesser extent, Jack Payne can hold up their heads with any pride in a 6 out of 10 sort of way.

Wycombe shredded Gillingham’s back line as they exposed the hapless Nutter and Barry Fuller on both flanks, with no protection coming from a woeful midfield. Danny Spiller should have seen red for an ugly lunge and Dennis Oli looked to be running through treacle from the early stages. In attack, McDonald might have had a productive evening if only he had a modicum of help. The lumbering Akinfenwa is doing nothing to dispel the ever-growing feeling that he is just an overweight misfit for which the club is paying far too much money.

The optimism that greeted Andy Hessenthaler’s appointment has now disappeared and has been replaced by anger as graffiti daubed on a neighbouring fence implored him and Chairman Scally to go. The club has seen too many managers already since relegation from the Championship in 2005 and the subsequent steady decline to this new low. Now is not the time for a knee jerk reaction, we are only in November and just 15 games into the season, but the poor form has to be reversed quickly. Scally stood by Mark Stimson after the dreadful performance in February against Tranmere, form didn’t improve and Gillingham were ultimately relegated. A similar scenario this season would see the trap door opening and nobody at the club should be thinking that it cannot happen, just ask the fans of Wrexham and Cambridge United who have been stuck in non-league for several years, or previous League Cup winners, Luton and Oxford, who have only just made it back.

Injuries have not allowed Hessen thaler to pick a side of his choice at any time this season. Central defence has been a real problem and Simon King and Garry Richards have not been available at all, both are nearing the end of long absences and will surely strengthen this weak spot. Danny Jackman has similarly seen little action and his return would put real pressure on Nutter. Centre midfield can only improve with the return of Curtis Weston and the pace of Andy Barcham has been desperately missed. The biggest squad in the Division should have been good enough to cover these absences, sadly the back-up has not been up to the task.

Such was the desperate nature of the performance against Wycombe that a 16-year-old, Ashley Miller, was thrown into the action with 20 minutes remaining. It was a far from ideal introduction, team playing poorly, crowd on their back and a game that was virtually lost. The youngster made a couple of good runs with the ball that lifted the crowd momentarily. As ever with Gillingham, conspiracy theories abound, Miller being introduced into first team action to lift his price as Liverpool are reported to be about to sign the lad.

The players cannot really be accused of not trying for Hessenthaler but there is a complete lack of confidence that manifests itself into bad decision making, a desperation that leads to long, high upfield punts that are not the service that it required by the strikers. McDonald is not tall, he needs the ball played to feet, Akinfenwa cannot get that massive frame off the ground, so he needs it to feet as well. There are brief glimpses of what this set of players can achieve, for example those magic 15 minutes at Northampton, when the ball sees the grass and players exercise a bit of movement, but as quickly as the confidence appears to return it disappears.

All this is going to be music to the ears of the 2,500 Dover fans that will pack out the Brian Moore Stand on Saturday, bent on retribution for the perceived betrayal of the man that lifted their club two divisions during his tenure. For Hessenthaler, a win is more important than FA Cup progress alone, quality can wait for another day.