The players only had four sessions before today’s game and Ofori-Acheampong, Brown and Wood all missed out through injury.
The rust of the close season meant the Darts were almost punished instantly as Millwall’s George Saville was needlessly fouled in a dangerous position and his whipped free kick almost found its way into the bottom corner but star keeper Ibrahim got down well to beat it away.
Dartford’s first real chance of the game came on seven minutes when a delightful one-two between Murphy and Logan saw the latter powerfully bend one effort just shy of the far post.
After the initial scare, Dartford grew into confidence and just edged an even opening quarter of an hour. All their hard-work was almost for nothing however as just after some good play around the Dartford midfield, Millwall squandered a glorious chance to open the scoring.
A clever ball was sent over the Darts back line and chased after by Millwall’s speedy striker Onyedinma, who exerted great strength to hold up the play in the box before squaring it to strike partner Morison who seemingly had the goal at his mercy but could only lift the ball over the bar.
As the half wore on, Millwall seemed content to sit back, soak up the pressure and exploit Onyedinma’s pace on the counter attack, utilising the ball over the top yet he was well tracked by Sho-Silver.
This game plan allowed the Darts midfield to dictate most of the play with Bradbrook and Gardener in particular, being strong in the challenge and marauding forward.
One specific exchange saw a string of fluid passes that had the crowd purring, ultimately leading to Della-Verde threading a curved through ball into the path of Gardener whose cross unfortunately petered out for a goal kick.
The Darts were rewarded for their high press efforts shortly after as a horror show at the back saw a simple back pass end in a goal. Faced with the onrushing Logan, first half keeper King skewer his clearance into the path of Logan who took a touch to steady himself before deftly checking back inside to deceive the scrambling keeper and stroking home to open the scoring.
Millwall begin to crank up the pressure after falling behind and start to regain a bit more of a foothold in the game but the Darts hold onto to a half time lead.
Millwall manager Neil Harris completely rang the changes for the second half, sending out a fresh eleven. Dartford made subs of their own, bringing on Hayes, Pugh and Vint for Gardener, Logan and Bonner.
End to end football opens the start of the second half as both sides see great passages of play falter on the final pass.
More recognised names on the field for Millwall in the second half and that step up in quality begins to show as the Darts defence fail to cut out another lofted through ball and Wardek is presented with a terrific chance at an equaliser but sees his attempt well blocked by Sho-Silver.
Millwall again go close as a succession of corners has the ball bouncing dangerously and attacked by Craig whose goal bound effort is deflected wide. Ibrahim is on top form smothering the swarm of crosses raining in the Dartford box.
However, Millwall finally found the breakthrough they were searching for. Lions midfielder Ben Thompson was awarded far too much space outside the box and he rifled an accurate drive paste a helpless Ibrahim into the bottom corner.
Dartford did have a clear chance to snatch a late winner. Substitute Mfula, who looked lively since coming on, had the crowd on their feet when he turned brilliantly to take two defenders out of the game and narrowly fired wide.
Bar a few late scares, Dartford held on for a much-deserved draw on the overall balance of play and Tony Burman will be very impressed by such a performance this early into preseason.
Dartford: Ibrahim, Harris (Habte ’79), Onyemah (Fulton ’59), Bonner (Vint ‘45), Sho-Silver (Thorley Porter ’90), Noble (Eweka ’79), Gardener (Hayes ‘45), Bradbrook (Cue ’70), Murphy (Mfula ‘55), Della-Verde (Ufuah ’87), Logan (Pugh ‘45).
Millwall 1st Half: King, Brown, Meredith, Hutchinson, Nelson, Butcher, Worrall, Saville, Morison, Onyedinma, O’Brien (Sandford Mbulu Smith)
Millwall 2nd Half: Archer, Romeo, Rooney, Webster, Craig, Williams, Wardek, Thompson, Gregory, Elliot, Wallace (Sandford Mbulu Smith)
Man Of The Match: Ibrahim
Match Report by Joe Brophy
|July 8, 2017||1:00 pm||2017/18||90'|
|Grass Banks, Dartford DA1 1LZ, UK|
|Club||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|