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Dover Athletic 6 Braintree Town 1 - match report

By Alex Hoad

Ricky Miller struck a 12-minute hat-trick before the break as Dover came from behind to demolish Braintree Town in National League at Crabble on Saturday.

Miller eventually hit four goals, taking him to 14 for the league season, as Dover romped into a 6-1 lead just three minutes into the second-half before cruising to the final-whistle.

Dover's Ricky Miller Picture: Matt Bristow.
Dover's Ricky Miller Picture: Matt Bristow.

Whites boss Chris Kinnear made two changes with Aswad Thomas and Sammy Moore in the team, though Moses Emmanuel served the final game of his three-match ban.

Ricky Modeste drew a low save from Joe Taylor inside five minutes and Jim Stevenson followed suit soon after with a 25-yard blast however the visitors went ahead on 13 minutes when the ball broke to Sam Matthews on the right and he drove into the box before curling a delicious finish into the top-corner past Mitch Walker.

Modeste was denied an almost immediate reply when his close-range effort from a superb Sammy Moore free-kick was gathered at the second attempt by Taylor who parried the initial effort into the air.

The unconvincing Taylor saw Modeste nod a deep Sam Magri cross over the bar but he was eventually beaten on 20 minutes when a cross was only cleared as far as Aswad Thomas - back from a one-match ban - who cut inside and fired in a low shot through a crowd which squirmed between the keeper's legs, with Modeste claiming a touch.

It was at that point that Miller took over.

Firstly he took advantage when the Iron failed to properly clear a cross on 23 minutes, pouncing on Stevenson's put-back and beating his man before firing an angled shot past Taylor for his 11th league goal of the season.

Miller's second arrived just four minutes later when he picked the ball up near the corner flag and drove into the middle before cutting back and firing into the far corner for a sublime second.

He saw appeals for a penalty waved away after being outmuscled by defender Ian Gayle just before the half-hour while at the other end Town created a rare chance with Walker making a fine save to deny Matthews his second from a similar position to his first.

Miller's hat-trick did however arrive on 35 minutes when he was given too much space on the edge of the box by the shell-shocked defenders and made an angle to fire into the top corner with Taylor given no chance.

The visitors should have pulled one back on the break two minutes later but Harry Lee could only drag his shot past the post after finding himself clean through on Walker's goal and his miss was punished at the other end five minutes before the break when a set-piece was allowed to reach Jack Parkinson at the back post to fire home the fifth from less than six yards.

It took less than four minutes of the second-half for Miller to add to his tally as he fired a 20-yard free-kick under a poor defensive Wall and the unsighted Taylor could not prevent the ball creeping past him and over the line for number six.

Gayle almost made it seven with an own-goal as he glanced a header just past his own post with Taylor flapping in no man's land but from then on the visitors enjoyed the best of the chances with Dover taking their foot off the pedal.

Walker was called on to keep out a low strike from sub Jack Midson just after the hour and held another looping effort on 67 minutes from the same player while Muldoon saw a shot deflected wide and Walker did well to deny another sub, Joe Maybanks.

Miller was withdrawn with more than 25 minutes remaining - surely with an eye on Tuesday night's trip to Bromley - but the visitors never gave up and Simeon Akinola drew another good save from Walker while former Wolves defender George Elokobi looped another effort over the bar in the final 10 minutes and lashed another inches past the post from distance as struggling Town finished the stronger in a game which had been decided much earlier by Miller.

Dover: Walker, Thomas, Sterling (Obileye 62mins), Grimes, Magri, Stevenson, Parkinson, Moore, Modeste (Jackson 78mins), Miller (Pinnock 67mins), Lafayette. Subs not used: Arnold, Fazakerley.

Braintree: Taylor, Williams (Ashton 55mins), Okimo, Lee (Midson 62mins), Gayle, Isaac, Akinola, Muldoon, Matthews (Maybanks 72mins), Cheek, Elokobi. Subs not used: Barnard, Corne.

Attendance: 1,073.

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