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Dover Athletic assistant manager Jake Leberl on their National League promotion hopes

By Steve Tervet

Dover Athletic know this season represents their best chance of getting promoted to the Football League.

There is no stand-out team in the National League after 18 games and Whites sit a point clear at the top of the table.

They host Eastleigh on Saturday and assistant manager Jake Leberl says their title aspirations are likely to hinge on games like these.

Dover are top of the National League Picture: Tony Flashman
Dover are top of the National League Picture: Tony Flashman

He said: “If we’ve got aspirations of winning the league, we’ve got to beat sides in the bottom half of the table at home.

“We want to be the next club to push on, like Fleetwood. Who’d have thought Fleetwood would be above someone like Leyton Orient five years ago?

“Other clubs have done it, so there’s our ambition. We want to get Dover into the Football League.

“It’s not going to be easy, but in the last few years we’ve been getting closer and with the start we’ve had, we’re not going to get a better opportunity than this year.”

Dover didn’t have a game last weekend, so Leberl and manager Chris Kinnear were able to scout both Eastleigh and Leyton Orient, who they play next Saturday.

Orient went down 2-1 at Gillingham in the FA Cup, while the Spitfires could only draw 2-2 at home to struggling Chester.

“Eastleigh are a strange beast,” Leberl said. “They can beat anyone on their day – they went to (former leaders) Macclesfield and won but let in a late goal against Chester. You never know what you’re going to get with Eastleigh.

“They’ve got a lot of experience but they should be doing a lot better than they are with what they’ve got.

Dover assistant manager Jake Leberl Picture: Tony Flashman
Dover assistant manager Jake Leberl Picture: Tony Flashman

“It’s always going to be difficult when you’re playing against players with that much experience but hopefully we can put our game plan on to them.

“They’ve got forwards who have scored a lot of League goals. They’re used to scoring goals, so they’re always going to be a danger. With people like Gary McSheffrey, they’ve got quality from set-pieces.

“They probably haven’t got the legs as such, so hopefully they won’t have the opportunities to show their quality.”

Just six points cover the top half of the National League.

“It’s so tight, it’s ridiculous,” Leberl said. “You lose three games and you could be bottom half. It’s unbelievable.

“The pleasing thing for us is that we have been consistent and there’s no reason that is not going to carry on.”

Tobi Sho-Silva and Jamie Allen remain sidelined but Dover have no fresh injury concerns.

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