Eastbourne Borough played out a hard fought 0-0 draw in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round with Conference Premier side Dover Athletic at Priory Lane on Saturday.
Both sides remain in the hat for the first round draw on Monday and will do it all again in Dover on Tuesday night.
It was a lively start from Borough and they fashioned their first shooting opportunity after just three minutes. Matt Aldred broke superbly from midfield and linked well with Richard Pacquette. Aldred then found Simon Johnson on the edge of the box and his side footed effort was well hit but was comfortably saved by Andrew Rafferty.
Dover looked powerful but rarely caused Borough too many problems going forward. They seemed content to sit back and see what Borough could offer as an attacking force. Borough looked bright but so often failed to capitalise on decent positions.
The best chance of the first half fell to Gavin McCallum. Kiran Khinda-John lofted a high ball forward that deceived Dover defender Richard Orlu. McCallum nipped in behind but with just the keeper to beat he completely scuffed his shot and Dover breathed a a sigh of relief.
Dover were better in the second half and without looking too incesive they increased the pressure. Boss Tommy Widdrington responded with a double substitution as Darren Lok and Elliott Charles replaced Pacquette and James Walker.
But the visitors continued to press as Tom Murphy flicked a header just wide from a cross from the left before Lewis Carey was down bravely to deny Jake Reid on 72 minutes.
Both sides refused to give way. Lok and Charles struggled to get in the game while Dover seemed content to take the tie back to their home patch. Borough enjoyed the better of the final five minutes Simon Johnson curled in an effort from 18 yards that didn’t really trouble the keeper.
Former Dover striker Charles came agonisingly close to scoring a late winner. Beale powered forward from left back and slipped in a fine ball to Charles. The forward wriggled free but Connor Essam produced a fantastic last ditch tackle just as Charles was about to shoot for goal.
Dover will be favourites for Tuesday night’s replay but Borough will certainly travel to Crabble with a fighting chance of progressing to the first round proper.
Eastbourne Borough: Carey, Hamilton, Beale, Aldred, Simpemba, Khinda-John, McCallum, Sinclair, Pacquette (Charles 65), Johnson, Walker (Lok 65). Subs not used: Lovett, Foot, Worrall, Rogers
Dover: Rafferty, Stone (Taiwo 45), Wynter (Sterling 17), Kinnear, Orlu, Murphy, Deverdics, Reid, Nanetti (Cogan 54), Bonner, Essam. Subs not used: Raggetty, Bellamy, Payne, Hook