Published: 21:46, 26 January 2021
| Updated: 15:40, 28 January 2021
Dover climbed off the bottom of the National League after a magnificent first-half display brushed aside fellow strugglers Barnet at Crabble on Tuesday.
Whites claimed their first win since October thanks to a Will De Havilland brace and Ahkeem Rose.
Dover made four changes from the team beaten by Solihull Moors on Saturday. Marvel Ekpiteta made his first start since November, Sam Wood and Travis Gregory came into the line-up after being substitutes on Saturday while Ade Azeez partnered Ahkeem Rose in attack.
Barnet, now under the stewardship of Tim Flowers, fielded former Dover forward Alfie Pavey in their attack. Flowers was looking for his first win in charge with Barnet picking up just two points from their last 10 league games.
Pavey had the visitors’ best chance inside three minutes but on-loan Palace keeper Ollie Webber made a brilliant save to keep out the striker’s right-foot shot.
Dover striker Rose was equally wasteful when he was played in by Ryan Hanson’s clever early pass. Rose’s pace got him clear but he sent his left-foot shot just wide of the upright.
On a heavy pitch and in driving rain, set-pieces were always going to be important – and Dover scored two goals from two dangerous deliveries into the box in the space of three minutes to gain control.
On 17 minutes, Hanson’s free-kick was inadvertently headed towards his own goal by a defender and although keeper Scott Loach did well to keep it out, De Havilland reacted quickest to score from close range.
It was De Havilland’s first goal of the season and he needed only three more minutes to double his tally. Sam Wood’s right-wing near-post corner caused mayhem in the Barnet defence and De Havilland was on hand to slide in to score.
The confidence was clear to see in the Dover ranks as they led by two goals for the first time this season.
Hanson combined well with birthday boy Oscar Gobern in midfield while Omar Mussa got stuck in despite the testing conditions.
At the back, Ekpiteta looked like he’d never been away and Pavey struggled to win much against the imposing figure of De Havilland.
A third goal arrived 10 minutes before the break. Barnet failed to clear a left-wing cross and the ball fell invitingly for Rose, whose first-time right-foot volley will be a goal-of-the-season contender.
It was the first time Dover had scored three goals in the first half of a league game since their 6-0 victory at Sutton in November 2016 – and the first time at Crabble since October 2016.
Barnet, who changed formation at the break, pulled a goal back on the hour when the visitors recycled the ball from a corner and the hosts were horribly outnumbered in their own six-yard box with substitute Michael Petrasso turning the ball home from close range.
Webber made a fine save as Barnet piled on the pressure, but it must have been a painfully slow second half for Whites fans. Having caused problems with their set plays in the first half, Dover wasted three second-half corners when they failed to beat the first man or delivered the ball straight out of play.
Dover had a great chance to wrap the game up with six minutes left when Wood’s clearance sent Rose clear, but his first-time shot from 40 yards with the keeper off his line lacked enough height to get over him and the keeper was able to clear as he backtracked towards his own goal.
The tireless Azeez nearly took full advantage of a poor Loach clearance two minutes from time but the keeper turned his shot onto the upright before it was cleared to safety.
Dover are now seven points from safety ahead of their trip to Yeovil, the team immediately outside the relegation zone.
Dover: Webber, Ekpiteta, De Havilland, Ransom, Gregory, Gobern, Mussa (Rigg 59mins), Hanson, Wood, Azeez, Rose (Collins 90mins). Subs not used: Mersin, Cumberbatch, Wratten.
Barnet: Loach, Dunne, Pavey (Faal 63mins), Hooper, Kefalas (Petrasso 46mins), Taylor, Richards-Everton, Binnom-Williams, Mason-Clark, Judd, Daly. Subs not used: Azaze, Connors, McQueen.
Referee: Matthew Russell.