Two second half goals from Ross Lafayette and Aswad Thomas won the Senior Cup for favourites Dover Athletic for the first time since 1991 and gave boss Chris Kinnear his sixth win as a manager in the competition.
After a frustrating first half when both teams struggled with the conditions, Dover took the lead with a sensational 25 yard strike from former Welling man Lafayette nine minutes after the break before defender Thomas got on the end of a pin point Joe Healy free kick late on to rubber stamp the win. Mention must be made of Dover keeper Mitch Walker who completed the perfect season of not conceding in the competition with his fourth shut-out meaning that Dover won the Trophy without conceding a single goal, which was tough on a Welling United side that created enough chances but in the end ran out of ideas…
Wings boss Alex Dyer had nothing but praise for his side when he spoke to KSN after the game. “Disappointed with the result obviously but to a man they worked hard, got the ball down and played and gave a good account of themselves. I’m proud of them after the season that they’ve had to be fair – they have got qualities and they showed they’ve under achieved this season. They’ll undoubtedly be fresh faces coming in during the summer with whoever is in charge – I’ve got a meeting with the Chairman this week so we’ll see – but they’ll have to do better than they did last this season.”
For Kinnear, his involvement with the competition which stretches back 25 years continued as this was his sixth triumph – the second with Dover, their first together being back in 1991! The manager himself was surprised. “I didn’t know that!” he admitted. “It’s down to the players not just me but it is an achievement. I love this competition – I want Kent to be successful and to thrive. I love the football here and want teams to push on… People are seeing a high level of football now in Kent, so if you’re in the competition you’ve got to try and win it. Two years ago when we played Ebbsfleet in the Final we had to play the youngsters as we had a Play Off Final days later – this year we were able to put the first choice out, but fair play to Welling they played well but we took the chances when we had them.”
Welling created the best of the early exchanges and had the game’s first chance when Walker made the games’ first save – full length to his left to deny a good drive by Alex Cathline. Dan Walker will have been disappointed not to have tested Walker when through on the angle before Sam Hatton beat the diving Walker from the edge of the box only for the shot to flash past Dover’s right post.
Kicking into the wind in the opening half, Dover struggled particularly with their final ball, and it was half an hour before Welling keeper Chris Lewington was really tested – racing out of his box to deny Moses Emmanuel as the Dover man streaked away from a square Wings back line. On the whole though for the opening 45 minutes, Dover struggled to find a way through a very well organised Welling defence.
The second half started with Cathline bursting through the Dover defence only to shoot straight at Walker. And then out of absolutely nothing, Dover took the lead – the ball was played into Lafayette on the edge of the box, and his shot on the turn flew beyond Lewington and into the top left corner of the net
Now it was Welling’s turn to battle back into the wind, they did force one save out of Dover keeper Walker and what a fine save it was as he denied his Welling name sake who’s drive through the crowd can only have been seen at the last moment. Shortly after, and from Dover’s first corner with 15 minutes left Sam Magri brought the best out of Lewington with a downward header, before Dover sealed their victory as Thomas got on the end of Joe Healy’s pin-point free kick to power home a header.
Dover Athletic FC – Mitch Walker, Sam Magri, Aswad Thomas, Richard Orlu, Mitch Pinnock (Peter Skapetis 74), Loui Fazakerley, Moses Emmanuel (Ira Jackson 90), Bondz N’Gala, Ross Lafayette (Jim Stevenson 80), Joe Healy, James Hurst
Subs – Chris Kinnear Jnr, Chris Barnard
Welling United FC – Chris Lewington, Tom Richards, Archie Johnson (Pierre Joseph Dubois 71), Matt Fish (Jamie Slabber 82), Danny Waldron, Ricky Hayles, Ali Fuseini, Sam Hatton, Alex Cathline, Harry Crawford, Dan Walker
Subs – Dean Leacock, Sean Francis, Paul Agu
Referee – Aji Ajibola
Assistants – Scott Rudd, Isaac Searle and Jack Packman
Match Report by Mike Green, Kent Sports News.
Match Photos by PSP Images.