Dover ’keeper turns up heat on Spitfires

Dover’s goalkeeper Mitch Walker in action against Eastleigh

Dover’s goalkeeper Mitch Walker in action against Eastleigh

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Non-league football reporter

DOVER Athletic goalkeeper Mitch Walker has tried to turn the heat up on Eastleigh ahead of today’s Vanarama Conference clash at Crabble.

While Richard Hill’s Spitfires have thrived since winning promotion as Conference South champions in May, Dover – who also went up via the play-offs – have just one point from their opening three games.

Since losing out to the Kent side in the play-off semi-finals two seasons ago, Eastleigh have exacted sweet revenge.

They beat Chris Kinnear’s men home and away in the league last season and knocked them out of the FA Trophy.

Admitting it was “about time” Dover got one over on the Spitfires, England C ’keeper Walker claimed all the pressure was on today’s visitors.

“Eastleigh have certainly splashed the cash and signed a number of high-profile players over the summer,” he said.

“There is pressure on them to perform after doing that.

“Failure to win promotion will be seen as a failure for them.”

If Eastleigh are feeling the pressure of signing established names like James Constable, Jack Midson, Paul Reid and Craig Stanley, they haven’t let it show.

They have taken to non-League’s top flight like ducks to water, reeling off back-to-back victories over Nuneaton and Aldershot ahead of last Saturday’s 2-2 home draw against Hill’s title fancies Gateshead.

With left-back Michael Green launching into a three-match suspension today after picking up a straight red against the Tynesiders, Hill has quickly addressed the situation by signing 23-year-old former West Ham trainee Matt Fry on a free transfer.

Dover – dining at the Conference top table for the first time in 12 years – have had a tough start to the season, losing to FC Halifax and Braintree without scoring.

But they will be boosted by last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Grimsby, which could so easily have been a win had ex-Havant midfielder Christian Nanetti not had a late penalty saved. Eastleigh complete their bank holiday programme on Monday (3pm) at home to another of their former Conference South rivals Welling United – another side with just one point banked.

But Hill stressed: “There are no easy games in the Conference Premier.

“There weren’t many in the Conference South either, but there were times last season when if you went 1-0 or 2-1 up you’d feel quite comfortable. Not now!”

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