Dartford returned from Chelmsford with a clean sheet on Wednesday night after a keenly-contested National League South play-off semi-final first leg.
In what was the fifth meeting between the two sides this season, there was nothing to choose between them.
Darts will be more than happy with a goalless first leg, however, knowing they have home advantage in Sunday’s second leg as they attempt to reach the final.
Darts boss Tony Burman opted for Duane Ofori-Acheampong up front with Lee Noble providing support from midfield.
As the game panned out, Noble had to compete for too many aerial balls than the visitors probably wanted.
The ball in the air was a theme of a cagey first half as Dartford looked relatively comfortable in defence.
Referee Savvas Yianni cautioned Dartford full-back Tom Wynter for a wayward challenge and then home skipper Anthony Church after a clash with Elliott Bradbrook.
Chances on goal were few and far between for either side. Robbie Willmott shot wide from distance for the hosts while the only save came on 16 minutes when Darts’ Deren Ibrahim tipped over Louie Theophanous’ near-post effort.
Ryan Hayes shot high and wide from the angle for Dartford, who struggled to retain possession for any length of time.
Theophanous fired wide of the far post on 47 minutes but that was as good as it got for Chelmsford in the second half.
The game quickly returned to the same pattern with the ball in the air, Dartford defending well and neither team looking like scoring.
Chelmsford’s Max Porter was cautioned for a late foul on Alex Brown on 54 minutes.
Dartford lost right-back Keaton Wood to injury with 13 minutes left after he landed awkwardly having won a header.
Darts introduced Tom Murphy with 12 minutes left while Chelmsford didn’t alter their line-up until the lively Shaun Jeffers came off the bench on 84 minutes.
Josh Hill’s volley from another long throw-in went wide of the upright as Chelmsford put Darts under late pressure.
Late cautions for Ofori-Acheampong and Ronnie Vint failed to knock Dartford off their stride and they held out comfortably for four minutes of stoppage time to ensure a game of limited chances finished goalless.
Chelmsford: Fitzsimons, Hill, Daley, Porter, Bush, Haines, Willmott, Church, Theophanous (Jeffers 84mins), Dickson, Rees. Subs not used: Miller, Cornhill, Buchanan, Haysman.
Dartford: Ibrahim, Wood (Harris 77mins), Wynter, Bonner, Vint, Brown, Hayes, Bradbrook, Ofori-Acheampong, Noble, Wanadio (Murphy 78mins). Subs not used: Pugh, Pavey, Wells.
Match report courtesy of Kent Online
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