The boys 19&U (A) Football team kicked off preparations for their home SEASAC campaign in swaggering fashion, finishing as champions of the Dragons Invitational tournament.
The tournament began against the rivals and tournament hosts, UWCSEA East. Dover got off to a flyer, with Lucas Merlino scoring the opener at the three minute mark and then doubling his tally with a stunning long-range volley. Rory Anderson added a wonderful third after a mazy run through the East defence.
Momentum was with Dover until lightning intervened, causing the remainder of the game to be postponed to the next day. This interruption proved a stroke of fortune for the home side, who would later capitalise on some poor defending to score three and nick a point at 3-3.
Next up were traditional 7-a-side rivals Tanglin. Lucas once again struck early, and the lads put on a strong display. Tanglin equalised late in the first half after a defensive mix-up, but Dover’s dominance paid off, with Rory heading in from a brilliant cross to seal a 2-1 win.
Two big wins against weaker opposition followed. The first was a 3-0 triumph in a cagey affair against CDNIS of Hong Kong and the second, a 6-0 demolition of the East B team.
Nine goals and two clean sheets left the boys in a confident position on 10 points from 4 games. However, hosts East pulled up level on both points (10) and goal difference.
One match remained for either side to try and gain the ascendancy.
Halfway in, the impetus was most definitely with East; Dover found themselves gridlocked at 0-0 vs Stamford American while the hosts were 4 up in their match. The chance was slipping.
However, one should never doubt our boys. Five goals and an incredible second half performance later, Dover emerged - by the slimmest of margins (the teams were split on goals scored) - champions of the Dragons Invitational.
With SEASAC rolling up to Dover Road this November, there was no better way to send a message of intent - the Dover Phoenix side is strong, in form and looking set to thrill their home crowd.