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Harry Wheeler falls off the cliff as Dover come from behind to claim Boxing Day win

Maidstone United have parted company with Harry Wheeler by mutual consent.

The decision comes after Boxing Day’s 3-1 defeat by Dover Athletic, which made it five consecutive defeats in the league.

Wheeler was appointed in September and despite taking the club to the second round of the FA Cup and FA Trophy, league form has not lived up to expectations with just 12 points from 15 games.

Club chief executive Bill Williams said: “Following discussions between the directors and Harry, it was decided that, given our league position at this stage of the season, both parties should go their separate ways.

“We thank Harry for the time and effort he put in and wish him well for the future.

“Let me be candid, this is not a situation any of us wanted to find ourselves in and I share the disappointment and responsibility for it.

“However, we now need everyone to pull together, in what are testing times for our club, as we do our damnedest to stay in this league.”

Tristan Lewis and Simon Walton will be in caretaker charge for at least Saturday’s game away at Boreham Wood and the New Year’s Day fixture at home to Dover Athletic.

The last game in charge for Wheeler was the loss at Dover on Boxing Day….

Three second half goals saw Dover Athletic win all three points in the Boxing Day Kent derby against Maidstone United in Wheeler’s final game as boss.

A poor backpass on seven minutes let in Jake Robinson to hand Stones the lead, but Whites rallied with goals from Mitch Brundle, Bedsente Gomis and Inih Effiong in front of Athletic’s biggest crowd of the season.

Early in the game, Effiong fired goalwards from Anthony Jeffrey’s cross, but the striker saw his effort blocked by the away defence.

It was the Stones who took the lead in bizarre fashion.

An underhit back pass from Stuart Lewis was seized upon by Robinson, who toe poked the ball past Mitch Walker, injuring himself after colliding with Dover’s stopper.

The visitors then almost doubled their lead through Robinson’s replacement Elliott Romain, who fired a 25-yarder fizzed narrowly past the post.

Ross Worner then denied Whites with a spectacular save.

The keeper, on loan from Sutton United, was at full stretch to tip away Bobby-Joe Taylor’s accurate free-kick.

With half-time looming, Romain flicked a Stones corner wide of the far post and seconds later, Jeffrey sprinted clear of the visiting defence, only to blast his shot wide of the mark.

Seconds before the break another defensive lapse by Dover almost handed the away side a second of the afternoon.

Romain picked the ball off Kevin Lokko in the area, but lacked any composure to trouble Walker.

Following the restart, Sean Shields was unable to beat Walker from an angle and a corner at the other end saw Athletic restore parity on 58 minutes.

Captain Brundle headed Taylor’s set piece across Worner and into the back of the net for his fifth league goal of the campaign.

The game was almost turned on it’s head when both Jai Reason and sub Alfie Pavey forced Worner into a successive blocks.

And the Stones stopper was at it again from another corner, this time stooping low to tip away Effiong’s firm header.

But Worner was powerless to stop Andy Hessenthaler’s going ahead on 75 minutes.

Reason’s lofted ball into the box was met perfectly by Gomis at the far post much to the delight of the 1,600 home fans in attendance.

And Whites’ supporters were cheering once again five minutes later.

With Harry Wheeler’s side pushing forward, Effiong sprinted onto a long ball and placed the ball out of Worner’s reach for his eighth of the season.

Dover’s chances of a league win against Maidstone at the third attempt was handed a boost by Rob Swaine’s dismissal on 84 minutes.

The defender was shown a straight red card for a nasty tackle on Lewis by the corner flag.

This proved to be the last game in charge for Harry Wheeler and now the search begins for his replacement.

For more from Maidstone United please visit their website here

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