Football non-league notebook: Dover aiming to finish in clover

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AFTER a series of near-misses, Dover Athletic are determined to reach the promised land of the GM Vauxhall Conference in 1993, writes Rupert Metcalf.

Monday's 2-1 home win over Hastings, secured by Steve Cuggy's goal six minutes from time, gave Dover a six-point lead at the top of the Beazer Homes League Premier Division.

The Lilywhites led the table in the closing stages of last season, but were caught by a late surge from Bromsgrove Rovers. In 1990 they were denied promotion in more cruel circumstances, when they won the league but found that their ground was not up to standard - a problem since rectified.

'We've won every competition we've entered in recent years except the FA Cup and FA Trophy,' Chris Kinnear, the Dover manager, said yesterday, 'but our main aim is, of course, the Conference.' Last season's top scorer, Tony Rogers, has moved on to Chelmsford, but Kinnear is not too upset. 'Tony was a big target man, but we've changed our style away from the long-ball game now.' His new forward line - Nicky Dent, Colin Blewden and Cuggy - have scored 35 goals between them so far this term.

Dover had a gate of 2,014 at the Crabble on Monday, their best of the season. Five of the eight GMVC games on the same day attracted crowds of over 2,000: Kidderminster's 1-0 win over Bromsgrove drew 4,324 punters to Aggborough, but that was eclipsed by the 6,488 gate at Yeovil, where Mickey Spencer's last- minute winner beat Bath City. As at Yeovil's previous home game against Bromsgrove, which was watched by a pre-Christmas Conference record of 5,495, the lure was vouchers for tickets to watch Arsenal in Saturday's FA Cup tie at Huish Park.

However, Wycombe Wanderers paid the penalty for switching their top-of-the-table match with Slough Town to the following night, when it had to be postponed less than two hours before the scheduled kick-off. To the annoyance of some of their supporters, Wycombe had switched the game to save on police overtime costs, but their frozen pitch meant a Tuesday night off for everyone. The fixture will now be played on 23 March, less than three weeks before the return at Slough.