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MATCH REPORT | HEMEL HEMPSTEAD 2 DARTFORD 1

Dartford fell to a sixth league defeat of the season, as a fired-up Hemel Hempstead leapfrogged their opponents with a 2-1 victory.

The Darts were slow out of the blocks on this occasion, as they struggled to keep the ball and deal with The Tudors’ attack. Such was their efficiency with the ball, that only the heroics of Mitchell Beeney kept the score goalless during the opening fifteen minutes.

The Dartford number one saved well from Reece Grant (1), Montel McKenzie (5), and Joe Iaciofano (7). Chris Smith then saw his header cleared off the Dartford line, as the hosts threatened to thrash the visitors.

However, that thrashing didn’t happen, as the Darts eventually composed themselves and managed to begin working on cutting out Hemel’s creativity. Despite that though, Alan Dowson’s side weren’t able to create anything until the 40th minute… and that came from the spot.

An attack along the right-flank saw Baris Altintop take the ball into the Hemel area, where he was brought down by a defender. The referee, Mr Matthew Jackson, pointed to the spot, and Luke Coulson confidently sent the ball beyond goalkeeper, and former Dart, Craig King.

Having been given the advantage with their first shot on the Hemel goal, all the Darts had to do was control the game until the half-time break… unfortunately, that didn’t happen as Altintop lost out to Reece Grant, enabling the problematic Tudor to race through in a one-on-one situation. He didn’t miss either, just coolly placed the ball beyond Mitchell Beeney (42).

The start of the second-half saw Alan Dowson swap Sam Odaudu with Maxwell Statham. That would be followed by Archie Woods coming on for Brandon Barzey (65), before Alex Wall replaced Jordan Wynter (73).

In the other dugout, Brad Quinton would make two changes in personnel. The first saw Reece Grant replaced by George Williams (63), before Joe Iaciofano went off for Tarrell Whittaker (87).

Returning to the action, the Darts started the second-half much stronger than the first and controlled the ball for longer periods. But the hosts were still a threat themselves and Iaciofano forced a superb save out of Beeney in the 56th minute, after Harvey Bradbury had forced a corner at the other end seconds before.

Paul Rooney came close with a flicked header from Luke Coulson’s free-kick (60), before Jordan Wynter found himself booked after a late challenge on the edge of the area ten minutes later.

And, the hosts took the lead shortly after that set-piece… the free-kick was met by George Williams just outside the Dartford box, and his fierce drive smacked into what looked like the chest of Moussa Diarra. Much to the annoyance of Alan Dowson and his players, Mr Jackson awarded a spot-kick for a handball offence, which Joe Iaciofano fired home (70).

Dartford responded well and were extremely unfortunate to not be level by the 80th minute. Moussa Diarra met Luke Coulson’s corner and headed it down into the path of Paul Rooney. The latter scored, but Mr Jackson ruled the goal out for an apparent foul on a Hemel player.

The visitors won another corner three minutes later, and were unlucky to see play stopped by the referee for another questionable foul on a Tudor (83). Mr Jackson then consulted his assistant over something that had happened in the Dartford dugout, and Alan Dowson was given his marching orders, much to the bemusement of both sets of coaches.

Baris Altintop came close to equalising late on (89), but the hosts weren’t going to be denied on this occasion.

The result sees Dartford slip down to thirteenth in the National League South table, but only five points outside the play-off positions in this highly competitive campaign. Luke Coulson and Co will dust themselves down and be ready to go again against Weston-Super-Mare on Tuesday evening.

TEAMS

HEMEL HEMPSTEAD: Craig King, Montel McKenzie, Kyle Ajayi, Josh Hill (c), Joe Iaciofano, Joe Re, Chris Smith, Reece Grant, Bradley Roberts, Arj Krasniqi, Bayley Brown.

SUBSTITUTES: George Williams, Alfie Matthews, Tarrell Whittaker, Tyrese Briscoe, Bradley Smith.

DARTFORD: Mitchell Beeney, Jordan Wynter, Sam Odaudu, Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Baris Altintop, Luke Coulson (c), Paul Rooney, Brandon Barzey, Joash Nembhard, Harvey Bradbury, Moussa Diarra.

SUBSTITUTES: Luke Allen, Alex Wall, Maxwell Statham, Archie Woods, Chris Lewington.

Match Photos Gallery

Chris Palmer