by Alex Hoad
Tonbridge Angels completed a festive double over Dover Athletic after a stoppage-time winner secured a 1-0 victory at Crabble in Blue Square Bet South on New Year’s Day.
Impressive debutant David Ijaha slid in the winner for the visitors in the 92nd minute to silence the majority of the segregated 1,102 crowd – the biggest of the season at Crabble – and make it two wins in six days for Angels over the Whites.
Dover created plenty of chances but found Angels keeper Lee Worgan in fine form and his defence in committed mood as they secured their first clean sheet in 20 games.
Whites' Ian Simpemba almost got on the end of an inswinging Barry Cogan free-kick in the ninth minute, but Angels thought they had gone ahead on 22 when Mark Lovell tapped in a loose ball.
However the linesman's flag denied the former Dover forward after keeper Mitch Walker had tamely parried a Frannie Collin shot from a low cross from the right by Sonny Miles.
At the other end, Dean Rance and Billy Bricknell saw shots saved by Worgan, while Angels' Lee Browning fizzed a 25-yard volley past Walker’s post on the half-hour.
Four minutes later Simpemba headed one of a plethora of set-pieces in the Angels half towards goal, but Worgan somehow tipped his downward header on to a post, with Miles then beating Simpemba to the rebound to hack the ball off the line.
Moses Ademola should have done better on his first Dover start when he fired over unmarked from a Cogan free-kick on 36 minutes, but after the break Angels grew in stature with Ijaha, newly acquired from St Albans, increasingly influential in midfield.
He stung the palms of Walker from 25 yards on 52 minutes while, at the other end, Ademola beat the offside trap on the hour and attempted to round Worgan, only for Ben May to take the ball off his toes with a shot which was blocked by a defender on the line. May then rattled the upright with the follow-up, before Cogan’s third shot in the space of as many seconds was blocked on the line before being scrambled away.
Calum Willock was introduced by Dover boss Nicky Forster soon after, but he lashed his only chance wide from 18 yards while former Whites striker George Purcell was twice denied by Walker at the other end.
The only goal arrived midway through five minutes of stoppage-time when lively Angels sub Aaron Gayle kept the ball alive down the right and the ball was eventually swung in for Ijaha to turn low past Walker off the inside of a post from 12 yards.
There was still time for Daryl McMahon to clip the bar with a curling free-kick as Dover desperately sought a breakthrough, but the final whistle made it back-to-back defeats for the title-chasers, who had won their previous six games.
Third-placed Dover lost ground on leaders Salisbury and second-placed Welling, who both won, while Tommy Warrilow's Angels climbed to 10th with the win.
How much damage do you think Tonbridge have done to Dover's title chances? Have your say below.
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