Been a while since I wrote a report, though there’s a few from December still outstanding – hopefully now I’m on a tablet I can be a little more effective.
Sunday is the day before I’m due back at work, so a quiet day in front of the second tranche of 3rd Round ties beckoned and Dover against Crystal Palace was the first offering.
So, what happened? All the pre-game talk was around Alan Pardew, with little more than cursory mentions for Dover and the game that BT Sport were expecting to see.
As it happened, that was probably for the best. Dover, from around half a minute in, were bit part players in their own fairy tale. Everything was going in Palace’s favour. The work rate of the midfield allowed the flair of Zaha the space to perform devilry (would that Bolasie was playing) and the quality of their passing was good enough that the 3-man backline of the hosts looked woefully inept.
Dover switched to a 4 not long in, but were a goal down by then, a Scott Dann volley from a Zaha cross breaking the deadlock.
That was as good as it got, really. The remaining match was Palace building attacks on a pitch that cut up more and more as we went on, and every time they got near the box looked dangerous. High balls, low balls, pressure, breakaways. The Eagles found it easy to demonstrate their range of skills.
Amongst all of that, Rafferty in the Dover goal made a string of very decent saves – a string that started as early as half a minute in.
By contrast, Dover couldn’t get a shot in and never troubled their more illustrious visitors. Not a single attempt over the whole 90 minutes.
When lesser teams play better ones in the cup, a number of things have to go in their favour; and they have to make the best of them – none of them did today for Dover; on top of which they were disappointing and will look back on an opportunity missed against a side who were rightly favourites, but are not impossible to beat.
In the end, it was a stroll in the park; Dwight Gayle got a goal, Kevin Doyle nicked a late one, Wilfried Zaha was a menace and Barry Bannan never stopped. There was no giant killing, just a crushing under Alan Pardew’s boots.
Entertainment value? 4.0; Dover tried, but did nothing. Routine.