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New Dover Athletic manager Jake Leberl aiming to build from the back after morale-boosting goalless National League South draw against play-off chasing Bath City at Crabble

New Dover manager Jake Leberl will aim to build from the back after his first match at the helm saw his relegation-threatened charges keep a first clean sheet of the season on Saturday.

National League South Whites ended a seven-month wait for a shut-out against eighth-placed Bath City - although the hosts couldn’t find a way through at Crabble and a draw wasn’t enough to prevent them from dropping to the foot of the table.

Jake Leberl – started life in charge of Dover with a goalless draw at home to Bath City. Picture: Tony Flashman
Jake Leberl – started life in charge of Dover with a goalless draw at home to Bath City. Picture: Tony Flashman

Their defensive display pleased Leberl, though, himself a versatile defender from his playing days, and gives Athletic a platform to build from.

Leberl, who set up with a five-man defence, said: “I like to build from the back.

“You like to have three strong boys (as centre-backs), who enjoy keeping clean sheets and want to defend.

“With that, you can be a threat at the other end with set-pieces. Generally, that’s the way we’ll want to go.

“First and foremost, we’ve got to build from the back - like all good teams - and I thought, defensively, we were really solid today against a really good outfit.”

Report: Dover 0-0 Bath

The stalemate meant goalkeeper David Aziaya and defender Scott Holding, on short-term loans from Bromley and Watford, kept a clean sheet on their first Dover starts.

“Both did very well,” noted Leberl, who will be supported by Academy manager Mike Sandmann on the sidelines.

“Scott has come in from Watford. He’s a northern boy so he’s a big, strong boy, so he’s mobile and one that’s going to put his body on the line.

“He’s desperate to do well and push on with his career. I’d like to think he’ll do well for us.

“Everything came about so quickly last week with Billy (Terrell) going back to Bournemouth and we had to get a keeper within two hours, to be honest.

Josh Anifowose – has left Dover for divisional rivals Hampton & Richmond Borough. Picture: Randolph File
Josh Anifowose – has left Dover for divisional rivals Hampton & Richmond Borough. Picture: Randolph File

“So, we thank Bromley for putting forward David. He’s a great size and another young boy.

“There’s going to be highs and lows to a goalkeeper’s life but, with a clean sheet on debut, I’m sure he - like I - will be very pleased.”

Neither side did enough to earn all three points, despite impressive Dover defender Charlie Naylor seeing a first-half header crash against the crossbar and forward Zidan Sutherland having a goal ruled out for offside.

Leberl, who saw his side have a late penalty appeal waved away after a collision between striker Nick Dembele and away defender Jordan Dyer, said: “I fancied Zidan to score.

“I’ve already had my battles with Zidan since I’ve come in but, to be fair, I thought he turned a corner today. His attitude has been spot-on and I think he’s buying into what we want to do.

“It’s really hard work for the forwards with the way we want to set up.

“It would have been nice if he nicked that one and, to be honest, I thought he would. If you see him in training, they’re the sort of chances he takes.

“Then obviously, Charlie has hit the bar with a header.

“It was a shame but maybe, in hindsight, that would have rallied them and it could have been a totally different game.”

Leberl helped Whites collect a point after back-to-back defeats despite being without the injured duo of midfielder Iffy Allen and striker Dontai Stewart.

He revealed: “Driving in, I was a little bit worried because, on Thursday night, both Dontai and Iffy trained. They both trained well.

“But Dontai picked up a bit of a knee injury and Iffy’s hamstring is not quite right - and he’s fallen ill, as well. I did expect to have both of them available.

“I was worried they (the starting players) would blow up - and they did blow up - but we didn’t really have much to change it with. I always kind of knew, late in the game, that we wouldn’t be a threat.

“But we managed to hold onto a point.”

Midfielder Josh Anifowose has left Dover for divisional rivals Hampton & Richmond Borough.

George Cory has stepped up from being a club media volunteer to become Dover’s new media officer. He replaces John McNicoll, who has departed the club.

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