2011/12 Blue Square Bet Premier Results
Our first season success carried straight over into the Conference Premier, as we'd win our first game of the year 5-0 away against York. A 4-0 home win over Crawley followed by a 3-0 away win versus Gainsborough had us on top of the table with an incredible 12 goals for and 0 against.
We'd never lose more than two games in a row in the league and we'd end up finishing an impressive 2nd on the table with 83 points (tied with Macclesfield but ahead of them on goal differential), seven points behind league champion Grimsby.
This league offers only one automatic promotion spot into League 2 (and professional football) but the clubs finishing between 2nd and 5th head to a playoff series to determine the other promotion spot.
We'd draw 5th placed Accrington as our opponent, with the first leg held at The Crown Ground in Accrington. It was a very physical series, with many bookings and they'd take an early lead on a penalty when young left fullback Rory McKeown
took down their striker in the area. We'd pull level off the foot of MR Abdeltareck Sakal
i, who had a monster season for us on the right wing but another goal would be converted from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute by Accrington to give them the 2-1 lead. Adding to the misery was a second yellow card for backup centre half Bobby Aisen
, meaning an automatic ejection and forcing us down to ten men. We'd give up a third goal afterwards to lose 3-1 and head home with the significant challenge of winning by at least two goals.
Playing the pivotal second leg with a tired squad due to a cup tie (more on that in a bit), we'd try to press hard to get back into the series and after a 3rd minute goal from young striker Kofi Poyser
, we were in control. However, a straight red card to DR Sam Long
on a foul in the area led to a 3rd penalty goal for Phil Edwards in two games and forced us down to 10 men once again, this time for the majority of the contest. We'd battle hard but give up two more goals to lose 3-1 again and 6-2 on aggregate, allowing Accrington to move onto the playoff finals and we'd have to lick our wounds and prepare for a second season in the Conference Premier.
Devastating! As an aside, Accrington would prevail in the Playoff final over AFC Wimbledon on penalties to advance to the npower League 2 along with champion Grimsby.
Blue Square Bet Premier 2011-12 League Awards
Top Goalscorer: Curtis Main, Darlington - 27
Most Assists: Michael Hall, Accrington - 19
Highest Average Rating: Abdeltareck Sakali, Dover - 7.40
Most Man of Match Awards: Curtis Main, Darlington- 9
Player of the Season: Curtis Main, Darlington - 40apps 27g 7a 7.24 Avg Rating
Manager of the Season: Phil Preedy, Accrington
Darlington's Curtis Main dominated the proceedings, quite obviously. Our right winger Sakali was an absolute stud this year. More on him in a bit. I finished second in the Manager of the Year voting, but fell to Preedy. Grimsby's manager finished 3rd despite winning the league. Our 91 goals were a Conference Premier record that stood until 2017/18, when it was broken by Barrow (94 goals).
Cup Competitions 2011-12
Being in the Conference Premier afforded us the luxury of starting in the 4th Qualifying round for the prestigious FA Cup. We'd easily handle non-league side Concord Rangers away before defeating Hinckley 2-0 at home in the 1st round proper. We'd draw Plymouth Argyle in round two away, a decent draw if we're thinking about money but a terrible draw if we're looking to advance. We were completely outclassed 4-1 and unceremoniously dumped from the competition.
4th Qualifying Round - Concord Rangers 1 Dover 4
1st Round - Dover 2 Hinckley 0
2nd Round - Plymouth 4 Dover 1
We'd attempt to defend our title in this competition, starting with a tough 1st round draw against league rival Blyth away. We'd battle to a draw and dramatically win the replay at home in extra time to advance. We'd follow with a one goal win at home versus Salisbury and a big 3-0 win away at Staines. We'd face a tough Kettering side away and come away with yet another close win to send us to the semi-finals for a second consecutive year. A 2-1 away win at Farnborough gave us an advantage going home for the second leg and we'd fight for another 2-1 victory to win 4-2 on aggregate to reach our second straight final.
We'd have to throw out a very tired and young squad for the final against Darlington, as the match was held only three days after the first leg of our Conference Premier Playoff semi-final against Accrington. I was pretty conflicted - do I go for a second straight Cup or do I save my players for the second leg of the playoffs, which would be held only three days later.
I opted to go with many young players and in front of 33,987 fans, we'd defeat Darlington 2-1 to win the FA Trophy for the second consecutive year!
1st Round - Blyth 1 Dover 1
1st Round Replay - Dover 1 Blyth 0 (extra time)
2nd Round - Dover 2 Salisbury 1
3rd Round - Staines 0 Dover 3
4th Round - Kettering 1 Dover 2
Semi Final Leg 1 - Farnborough 1 Dover 2
Semi Final Leg 2 - Dover 2 Farnborough 1 (Dover wins 4-2 aggregate)
Final - Dover 2 Darlington 1 (at Wembley Stadium)
DOVER WINS 2011/12 FA TROPHY
2011-12 Overall Dover Statistics
Top Goalscorer: Ben Hunt - 22
Top League Goalscorer: Ben Hunt - 17
Most Assists: Paul Caffrey - 14
Highest Average Rating: Abdeltareck Sakali - 7.33 (40 apps)
Most Man of Match Awards: Abdeltareck Sakali - 8
Fans Player of the Year: Oliver Nicholas
2011-12 Dover Best Eleven
GK - Liam O'Brien - 45 apps 0g 6.81 avg
DL - Tom Wynter - 38 apps 1g 7.07 avg
DC - Olly Schulz - 52 apps 5g 7.15 avg
DC - Oliver Nicholas - 47 apps 4g 7.19 avg
DR - Conor Morrissey - 41 apps 0g 7.07 avg
ML - Ismael Fofana - 44 apps 9g 6.99 avg
MC - Jake Caskey - 30 apps 6g 6.98 avg
MC - Paul Caffrey - 48 apps 2g 7.04 avg
MR - Abdeltareck Sakali - 40 apps 14g 7.32 avg
ST - Kofi Poyser - 26 apps 14g 7.22 avg
ST - Ben Hunt - 47 apps 22g 7.13 avg
: GK Liam Hogan 14 apps 6.78; DR Carl Jenkinson 10 apps 0g 6.79; MC Richie Ryan 46 apps 8g 6.96; MC Jon Wallis 42 apps 4g 6.93; ST Ben May 29 apps 9g 7.00; DL Jamie Reckord 24 apps 0g 7.00; AM/ST Alan Murphy 27 apps 6g 6.90
continued to improve throughout the season and looks like he could be quite a capable keeper in the future.
A couple big surprises here. We were forced to play Tom Wynter
quite a lot more than expected at DL due to injuries to new signee Jamie Reckord
. Wynter acquitted himself nicely but the other major surprise was young Conor Morrissey
stepping in as an 18 year old and playing 41 games. His aggressive tackling was contagious and he quickly became a beloved teammate for his spirit. His potential rating skyrocketed from 3.5 to 4.5 stars by the end of the season and kept incumbent Matt Fish
on the sidelines for the most part. Oliver Nicholas
was excellent, as hoped, in his first full year at centre half but was a surprising choice as our fans Player of the Year. Olly Schulz
wasn't quite as good as last year but was solid, as usual.
likely was robbed of the Player of the Year award. 40 total appearances, 14 goals, 12 assists, 8 MoM awards and a 7.32 average rating. He was a marvel. Jake Caskey
was rarely a starter and when he did play, it was mostly at ML so his choice in the best eleven at MC is a bit strange. Paul Caffrey
slowed down a bit and new signee Richie Ryan
was stellar on penalties and set pieces, adding a new dimension to our team. Paul Marney
was mostly an afterthought and went from first choice midfielder last season to fifth choice this year behind Caffrey, Ryan, Caskey and Jon Wallis
was superb but couldn't stay healthy enough, scoring 14 goals in only 26 contests. Ben Hunt
was a rock, steady as you can be as our deep-lying striker. Ben May
and the left-footed and super quick Alan Murphy
were capable rotation players while Adam Birchall
, a 20-goal scorer last year, disappointed.
We had a great year at the gate, with attendance more than doubling and our turnover went well over the million pound mark. We'd turn our first profit as well and our bank account was looking quite healthy, making the board quite pleased with my frugal style.
Our second consecutive FA Trophy win was the easy highlight but the semi-final Conference Premier playoff loss stung hard.
We have a young team with talent across the field and we did a great job of developing future stars like Liam O'Brien in goal, Oliver Nicholas and Conor Morrissey on defense, Abdeltareck Sakali at midfield and Kofi Poyser and Ben Hunt at striker. Hopefully we can bounce back next season and nail down that elusive promotion into professional football.