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02 May 2022 Venue Meadow Lane Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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Match Reports

Notts 1-0 Dover

Rodrigues' milestone goal wins the day

2 May 2022

Ruben Rodrigues' 20th goal of the season was enough to secure victory over Dover Athletic.

On an afternoon when we had 19 shots, one proved to be enough as Rodrigues finished off a lovely team move on 18 minutes.

The victory leaves us only needing one more point to guarantee ourselves a play-off place. As Grimsby didn't play, they sit three points behind us in sixth with a game in hand.

Having traveled to Aldershot only two days prior, Ian Burchnall rotated his squad once again.

Sam Slocombe replaced Vitezslav Jaros between the sticks, Joel Taylor claimed Adam Chicksen’s left-back slot and Jayden Richardson replaced the suspended Dion Kelly-Evans at right back.

Alex Lacey partnered Connell Rawlinson in central defence as Sam Graham made way, with Harry Arter and Jim O’Brien getting the nod alongside Matty Palmer in midfield at Ed Francis and Zak Brunt’s expense.

In attack, Elisha Sam and Rodrigues supported Kyle Wootton, with Cal Roberts taking a place on the bench.

Having beaten Dover 3-0 in a dominant display six days prior, we picked up where we left off with a controlled first half which began with both Rodrigues and Wootton narrowly missing Sam’s low cross.

Rodrigues had his goal on 18 minutes, though, when he finished off a fine move which saw O’Brien’s sliderule pass release Richardson to provide the perfect low cross for the Portuguese.

Sam and O’Brien skied shots in quick succession as we continued to get around Dover on both flanks, and the former was gifted an opportunity by a poor back-header by a visiting defender only for Alexis Andre Jnr to race off his line and make a big save.

We were having to remain patient in our play with Dover keeping 10 men behind the ball at all times, and some quick passing on 36 minutes resulted in Rodrigues striking one sweetly from the edge of the area under pressure but failing to send the ball either side of Andre Jnr.

Our pressure continued with Rawlinson doing well to head Palmer’s corner back across goal for Wootton, who couldn’t keep his own header down inside the six-yard box.

And the first half ended with Arter bending a long-range, left-footed effort towards the top corner – but the ball didn’t have enough pace on it to trouble the keeper.

There were no changes at the break and we continued to dominate on our return to the field, with consecutive Palmer corners seeing Rodrigues’ shot diverted wide before Sam was off-target with a header.

Arter made way for Roberts shortly after the hour and the winger created our next two opportunities, playing Richardson into area and watching on as the wing back’s shot from a tight angle was nudged wide, before seeing his excellent low cross just evade Lacey six yards out.

Two minutes later, Andre Jnr pushed an O’Brien shot wide at the base of his post and, shortly afterwards, Wootton had the ball in the net following a scramble but, incorrectly following a review of the footage, the goal was ruled out for offside.

Dover’s one and only attempt on target came on 79 minutes when Slocombe got his hand to a header before setting us off on the counter-attack, with Sam seeing a shot blocked and Roberts rifling the ball wide seconds later.

We kept pushing for the next goal and were denied it by an exceptional save from Andre Jnr on 82 minutes, the keeper leaping to his left to push Rodrigues’ bouncing shot on to the bar and out for a corner.

And the second goal evaded us again at the death when Roberts’ brilliant run down the right took him into the area, where he could only shoot wide from a tight angle.

Inside three added minutes, substitute Ed Francis sent a shot just wide of the near post, Rawlinson got in the way of an effort at the other end and Rodrigues sent the ball dipping over Andre Jnr’s crossbar.

But there were to be no more goals in our penultimate home match of the season.

STARTING XI: Slocombe; Taylor, Lacey, Rawlinson, Richardson; Arter (Roberts 64'), Palmer, O'Brien (Francis 77'); Sam, Rodrigues, Wootton

SUBS: Brindley, Vincent, Mitchell

ATTENDANCE: 6,523 (72)

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