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Dover Athletic 1 Wrexham 0 - match report

By Mark Stokes

New boy Ryan Bird was the matchwinner as Dover picked up their first home win of the Vanarama National League season to continue their stranglehold over Wrexham.

Bird’s 18th minute close-range strike proved enough to earn the points at Crabble on Saturday and stretch Dover’s unbeaten run against the Welshman to seven games - a sequence comprising four wins and three draws.

Chris Kinnear’s side created other chances, most notably two first-half headers for their scorer, but they were rarely threatened at the other end with Wrexham restricted to just one real clear-cut opening - a wayward header from Scott Boden.

Scorer Ryan Bird gets in a header against Wrexham Picture: Alan Langley
Scorer Ryan Bird gets in a header against Wrexham Picture: Alan Langley

Dover’s starting XI was the same as had played in the opening two games, with George Essuman replacing Chris Barnard in the one change on the bench.

Both sides had made similar starts to their campaigns with one win and a defeat and it was Wrexham who had the first sight of goal on three minutes when Boden’s shot was well smothered at close range by Mitch Walker.

However that was about it during a quiet opening 20 minutes in which the teams struggled to find fluency - a factor influenced no doubt by the fact both squads have gone wholesale changes during the summer.

Then, from almost their first real attack Dover broke the deadlock in the 18th minute. Jamie Allen wriggled to the byline before teeing up skipper Mitch Brundle on the edge of the box.

His shot was charged down by the Wrexham defence but the loose ball broke to Kane Richards who was able to square the ball to Bird for a simple finish from six yards.

As Dover picked up the pace the big striker almost added second four minutes later when he sent a header inches wide of the upright from Femi Ilesanmi’s deep cross.

Nortei Nortey was the next to go close for Whites forcing visiting keeper Chris Dunn to parry his skidding 25-yard drive on the half-hour, and Boden then had Wrexham’s best chance of the half when he headed down and wide from eight yards.

Bird illustrated his aerial prowess again in the 34th minute when he climbed above his marker to head over from Brundle’s cross and he showed he was clearly in the mood before half-time when he tried his luck from 25 yards with a shot that drifted wide.

Kane Richards looks to force his way through against Wrexham. Picture: Alan Langley
Kane Richards looks to force his way through against Wrexham. Picture: Alan Langley

Wrexham’s Jack Mackreth forced Walker into a low save inside the first 30 seconds of the second half as the Welshmen started with a bit more urgency than they had shown before the break.

But it was Dover who almost doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Brundle’s deep corner was met by Allen whose goalbound header was cleared off the line by Sam Wedgbury.

Wrexham rang the changes with two substitutions within the space of five minutes midway through the half but the visitors found chances at a premium with the Dover central defensive trio of Manny Parry, Connor Essam and Giancarlo Gallifuoco in unforgiving mood.

Dover for their part continued to play the low-risk football which has become their trademark with skipper Brundle looking particularly comfortable.

Ilesanmi did create a half-chance when he cut onto his right foot only to fire wide at the near post on 81 minutes but Dover’s only other opening came right at the death when substitute Kadell Daniel curled a 20-yard effort just wide.

Wrexham failed to extend Walker again and when central defender Shaun Pearson glanced a header wide from the final play of the match it summed up their afternoon as Whites made it two wins from three ahead of Tuesday’s long trip to Halifax.

Dover: Walker, Passley, Ilesanmi, Gallifuoco, Parry, Essam, Richards (Daniel 90+mins) Brundle, Allen, Bird (Sho-Silva 88mins), Nortey: Subs (not used): Pinnock, Essuman, Adebowale.

Wrexham: Dunn, Jennings, Smith, Pearson, Mackreth, Wedgbury, Carrington (Rutherford 60mins), Kelly (Hurst 78mins), Roberts, Boden (Massanka 65mins), Wright; Subs (not used): Dibble, Marx.

Attendance: 1,012 (139 Wrexham fans)

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