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Dover Athletic boss Jake Leberl looks to build upon 1-0 National League South success over Slough Town ahead of their trip to Braintree Town

Boss Jake Leberl admits it’s vital Dover build on a much-needed win in their unlikely National League South survival bid.

Whites beat Slough 1-0 on Saturday - only their third league victory all season - thanks to striker George Nikaj’s late goal to move off the foot of the table.

Dover striker George Nikaj – scored but was also sent off in last Saturday’s 1-0 success against Slough. Picture: Stuart Brock
Dover striker George Nikaj – scored but was also sent off in last Saturday’s 1-0 success against Slough. Picture: Stuart Brock

Dover are still some way from safety but, if they can now string a run of positive results together, they could give themselves a chance - albeit a slim one - of a great escape.

Leberl said: “You need to get a bit of momentum going to get a bit of confidence. That’s easier said than done in an unforgiving league!

“Saturday has given the boys confidence and belief in what we do, first and foremost making ourselves hard to beat. We have been in most games.

“It’s only the Truro one, really, which was a little bit disappointing (a 2-0 home defeat) after letting in the first one.

“Every other game, we have been in.”

Report: Dover 1-0 Slough

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But Dover are still 10 points adrift and have played more league fixtures than most sides above them.

Leberl, set to be without Nikaj for this Saturday’s trip to Braintree after he was sent off for a second yellow card shortly after scoring, joked: “Only 10, eh?

“It’s nice to get off the bottom because that’s one little stepping stone. If we can stay off the bottom, keep grinding out results, pick another one off [that’s great]. But let’s not get carried away. We have just won one game of football.

“We have Braintree away next and George Nikaj suspended, so it’s going to be tough.

“We have got a few injuries and we’ll look to strengthen where we can - but we’re having difficulties there at the minute. We’ll keep trying.

Dover boss Jake Leberl. Picture: Dover Athletic FC
Dover boss Jake Leberl. Picture: Dover Athletic FC

“All of us will keep working as hard as we can to turn this around.”

Destiny Oladipo was an unfortunate victim of circumstances against Slough.

Having only come on in the 70th minute, the striker was substituted himself with Dover down to 10 men to allow club captain James Dunne to come on and offer more experience in their defensive third.

Leberl explained: “We made the decision to play with no centre-forward and cover the flanks when Nikaj got sent off.

“To be honest, Destiny has just come to see me. He thought it was something he had done wrong, which made me laugh because I didn’t think I’d have to explain it to him!

“But he took it. Like all the boys, he only wants what’s best for the team.”

While Nikaj will be banned as Whites start a run of three away games, Leberl will still make sure the Academy product is put through his paces.

“He needs to do some hard work off the pitch,” he said.

“We’re going to set up a little bit of a gym session for a few of them to make them a little bit fitter and stronger.”

John Oyenuga missed out against Slough for the second successive game, the experienced right-back having been involved in a car crash ahead of last Tuesday’s 2-1 derby loss to Tonbridge - when stand-in captain Jacob Mensah netted his first goal of the season.

Asked if he had an update on Oyenuga’s injuries, Leberl replied: “Not really. I think it looks a little bit worse than we first feared. He’s struggling with a bit of whiplash so we’re not really sure where we are with that one.

“We’ll need to address that in the week. We need to get some cover in because we’re very light in numbers.”

Dover’s play-off chasing weekend hosts have collected seven points from their last three games.

Leberl said: “I know every time I have been there - as a player, assistant manager or a manager - it’s always a very tough place to go.

“They’re an honest, hard-working side, who pick up a lot of good results.”

Among Braintree’s ranks is ex-Dover striker Alfie Pavey. The 28-year-old joined them on loan earlier this month after he had penned a two-year contract with National League team Woking last September.

“I know Alfie very well,” said Leberl. “He’s gone there and he is a threat in both boxes. It’s something that we will have to overcome.

“No doubt, he will be up for it.”

Off the pitch, Nicola Holder will leave her role as Dover’s finance assistant next Friday.

Dover’s Kent Senior Cup tie at Isthmian South East Beckenham has been rearranged for next Tuesday.

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