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Dover Athletic keeper Mitch Walker relishing being part of the Whites new-look defensive line-up

By Alex Hoad

Keeper Mitch Walker says maintaining Dover’s superb defensive record could be the key to fulfilling the club’s dream of promotion to the Football League.

In recent years, with the likes of Ricky Miller and Stefan Payne in their ranks, Dover have been among the highest scorers in the National League.

However, while they are middle of the goalscoring pack this time around after a summer overhaul, their new-look defence has blossomed in the season’s first 15 games.

Mitch Walker. Picture: Barry Goodwin.
Mitch Walker. Picture: Barry Goodwin.

Although many predicted it would take time for a completely new backline to gel, Dover began the season with a clean sheet away at Hartlepool and have not looked back since.

Whites have conceded just 10 goals in their opening 15 games – the second best record in the division – and Saturday’s clean sheet at Torquay was the fifth in their past eight games and Walker’s seventh of the season so far.

Dover’s longest-serving player admitted: “As strikers do with goals, I have to admit I do sort of set myself a target and I go into every game trying my best to keep a clean sheet.

“To stay on track I need to keep a clean sheet in between a third and a half of our games – if you can do that then you’re doing pretty well and if you can get it close to a half, then the teams that do that tend to end up in the top two or three in the league.

“Saturday was number seven so we’re not too far off half – hopefully we can keep that run going.”

Whites welcome National League rivals Bromley to Crabble in the FA Cup on Saturday (3pm), having already lost 2-1 at home to the Ravens in the league.

Walker said: “It’s a tough draw but it’s a game we’re looking forward to. They beat us in the league but I think most of the boys are approaching this just like another league game.

"We didn’t do as well in the cups as we’d have liked last season – although winning the Kent Senior Cup was a silver lining.”

Saturday’s win at Torquay made it 17 points from eight away games and kept Dover a point off the top.

Walker added: “This is our fourth year in the league and every year we’ve done better than expected. Some think of us as little old Dover but we’ve made a mark in this league.

“There are eight or nine clubs who will think they can win it this season and why can’t that be us?”

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