Another vigorous pre-season test for the Darts as they delivered a hard-fought battle but ultimately just fell short against the League One side.
Both teams fielded many trialists in the starting line-up with Darts manager Tony Burman electing to bench Saturdays goal scorer Romaric Logan in favour of the man who lit up the Southern Counties East last season, Warren Mfula.
The Gills came into the game of the back of a solid opening 1-0 win against Faversham and built on that display by taking an early lead inside four minutes. A simple cross from Max Ehmer to the back post found only captain Gabriel Zakuani with a free header and he guided the ball past a helpless Ibrahim.
Dartford struggled to gain a foothold in the game, battling against difficult conditions and under pressure from a solid Gills backline who restricted the hosts to speculative efforts from distance.
A physical game being commanded with hard but fair challenges flying in from both sides. The Darts had a number of good passing moves foiled by the last killer through ball, with Harris in particular attempting to make a number of runs in behind and saw a dipping effort just tipped over.
Summer signing Della-Verde was looking to build upon his promising debut at the weekend with another strong display here and he tried his luck on several occasions.
Gillingham boss Ady Pennock chose to start a strong-looking side from the first whistle and t played dividends as they were largely restricting the Darts to only a few spells of possession and soon had another goal just after the half hour mark to show for their good play.
Slick build up play down the left-hand side saw Bradley Garmston send in a wicked cross for Josh Parker to stick home from inside the box.
The Darts went into half time having played decent football but knowing they were up against a quality side.
Hayes, Mfula, Della-Verde, Bonner all made way in the second half for Murphy, Sho-Silva, Logan Gardner however it did little to halt the momentum of the unchanged Gills side who twice could be considered unfortunate for not extending their lead after Garmston put in several dangerous crosses.
After an hour on the clock, the Gills rang the changes, switching up their entire team but sticking to their 3-5-2 formation for the final thirty minutes.
The deficit was almost halved by former Gills man Andy Pugh, who found his low strike kept out well after manoeuvring a rare chance.
Whilst it wasn’t to be Pugh, the Darts did grab a goal back through former Gills younger Tom Murphy who embarked on a terrific solo run before firing a left footed strike into the top corner on 74 minutes.
Dartford pressed for an equaliser but it wasn’t to be but the game finished with a much more encouraging second half for the Darts who can be proud of their overall performance.
Dartford: Ibrahim, Harris, Onyemah (Ufuah 76mins), Bonner (Gardner 46mins), Vint, Noble (Habte 76mins), Hayes (Murphy 46mins), Bradbrook (Fulton 76mins), Mfula (Logan 46mins), Pugh (Cue 65mins), Della-Verde (Sho-Silva 46mins).
Gillingham: Holy (Nelson 60mins), O’Mara (O’Neill 60mins), Zakuani (Tucker 60mins), Ehmer (Trialist 60mins), Wagstaff (List 60mins), Garmston (Ogilvie 60mins), Chapman (Hessenthaler 60mins), Wright (Byrne 60mins), Trialist (Martin 60mins), Parker (Wilkinson 60mins), Trialist (Cundle 60mins).
Man of the Match: Tom Murphy
By Joe Brophy
|July 11, 2017||7:30 pm||2017/18||90'|
|Grass Banks, Dartford DA1 1LZ, UK|