Dartford’s adventure in the London Senior Cup ended at the Quarter-Final stage, after Haringey Borough came from behind to win at a quiet and cold Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.
As more than 150 supporters braved the cold conditions under the floodlights, Dartford manager Alan Dowson shuffled his squad for this cup fixture against the Isthmian Premier League outfit. And his predominantly young Darts, led by Samir Carruthers, put up a good fight and could even consider themselves a little unfortunate to go in behind at the break.
The first-half was an entertaining affair, with both sides creating opportunities throughout. The hosts came close within three minutes when Samir Carruthers’ free-kick was met inside the box by Kristian Campbell. But, the defender headed his effort straight into the grateful arms of goalkeeper Joshua Strizovic.
The Borough showed what they were capable of two minutes later, when William Dupray was allowed to run with the ball before shooting straight at Dan Wilks from just inside the Dartford danger area (5)… An early warning sign that the North Londoners were taking this fixture seriously.
This rather lively first forty-five was end-to-end, and the hosts were next to flex their shooting muscles when Marvin Herschel shot straight at Strizovic in the 11th minute. Five minutes later, though, the Academy product fired the Darts ahead.
Having received the ball via a brilliant over-the-top pass, the youngster then out-muscled his opponent before finding the target with a cool finish to net his third goal of the season (16).
The visitors were determined to get back on level terms, and sent another warning sign after 24 minutes. The move began via the lively Josiah Bridgeman, who found Ben Allen inside the Dartford box. However, Allen couldn’t test Dan Wilks, instead he fired high and wide of the goalkeeper’s goal.
He needn’t have been too concerned though, because his side equalised three minutes later after pouncing on a mistake deep inside the hosts’ half of the pitch. Alphanso Kennedy was the man released, and he made no mistake to place a neat finish beyond Wilks (27).
Dartford responded immediately and were rewarded a free-kick on the edge of Haringey’s box. Once again, Carruthers took it, but his curling drive flew narrowly wide of Strizovic’s upright (29).
Yet, The Borough came forward once again and a terrific switch of play released Kennedy on their left-flank. He managed to beat his man, cut inside, and fire a fierce drive towards goal. Dan Wilks got down to make the save, but he couldn’t hold it, and the loose ball fell to Erald Desa, who was on hand to tap the visitors into the lead (33).
The hosts retaliated via Herschel, who singlehandedly tried to pull his teammates level after receiving the ball inside the Haringey box. However, under pressure from the defence, he couldn’t quite get a clear shot on goal and Strizovic was able to collect (35).
As the hosts pressed forward, Pierre Fonkeu was next to come close with an excellent strike, only to see Strizovic get down to make an equally excellent block in the 38th minute. That was followed by Bridgeman bursting down the Haringey right-flank in the 44th minute, before finding Desa with a delightful cross. However, the latter’s effort flew narrowly wide of the far post.
The second forty-five saw Tom Loizou’s side begin well once again, as they pressed the hosts back into their own half of the pitch. And they came close to extending their lead in the 47th minute, when a teasing ball was intercepted by Dan Wilks before Erald Desa could get there.
After forcing a couple of corners, the visitors were first to make a substitution when Erald Desa was replaced by Jorge Djassi-Sambu after 58 minutes. Haringey’s remaining changes in personnel included Callum Ismail coming on for Josiah Bridgeman (69) and Samuel Owusu replacing Alphanso Kennedy (90).
Meanwhile, Alan Dowson would swap Archie Pangi for Kayan Hassan (60), Jimmy Shepherd for Obi Onyeagwara (78), before Louie Atkins replaced Jayden Boulton with six minutes remaining.
Returning to the action, the hosts began to venture forward after the 63rd minute and were awarded a free-kick after Marvin Herschel was fouled. Unfortunately, nobody was able to get on the end of Samir Carruthers’ set-piece and the same can be said of the next set-piece which duly arrived three minutes later.
Jayden Boulton was the player fouled on this occasion, only it was in a more dangerous position. Kristian Campbell took this one, but the Haringey defence did its job to deflect the ball behind for a corner. Carruthers whipped the ball into the danger area, but Pierre Fonkeu couldn’t get enough on it and the visitors were able to clear eventually.
The visitors almost added a third after a swift counter-attack released Callum Ismail, but Dan Wilks was alert to make an important save (81). Not that Haringey needed the extra goal, though, as the damage had already been done in the first-half to send the visitors deservedly through to the next round.
As for the hosts, Alan Dowson’s young Darts made a good account of themselves on a cold evening. With a little more accuracy in the final third, this might have been a different result.
DARTFORD: Dan Wilks, Kristian Campbell, Samir Carruthers (c), George Whitefield, Obi Onyeagwara, Ali Mansaray, Pierre Fonkeu, Kayan Hassan, Marvin Herschel, Malachi Napa, Jayden Boulton.
SUBSTITUTES: Dean Nayler, Archie Pangi, Louie Atkins, Ben Dudzinski, Jimmy Shepherd.
HARINGEY BOROUGH: Joshua Strizovic, Stefanos Georgiou, Michael O’Donoghue (c), William Dupray, Scott Mitchell, Scott Durojaiye, Josiah Bridgeman, Matthew Young, Ben Allen, Erald Desa, Alphanso Kennedy.
SUBSTITUTES: Callum Ismail, Max Ovenden, Samuel Owusu, Jorge Djassi-Sambu.
By Chris Palmer