10-man Dartford soared to the top of the National League South with a hard-fought 2-1 win away to Bath City at Twerton Park.
A double from League top scorer Alfie Pavey sandwiched between a half time strike from Tom Smith was enough to secure the three points.
The win was slightly marred by a straight red card for Andy Pugh with twenty minutes left after a late challenge on Dan Ball but despite having the fewer players, Pavey was on hand to grab the win ten minutes later.
The result means the Darts are ahead of the chasing pack on goal difference, albeit having played a game more whilst Jerry Gill’s woes continue having failed to grab a league win since taking managerial charge three weeks ago.
Dartford almost got off to a spectacular start when Ryan Hayes tried his luck with a first-time effort straight from kick off but his sailing effort unfortunately struck the crossbar and came out.
Hayes was soon involved again, this time out wide. Holding off one challenge he swung a cross towards Pavey, but the latter could only send his header straight into the arms of Luke Southwood.
The Darts pressure was relentless however and soon they had their breakthrough curtesy of a headed effort from Pavey just after the half hour mark.
Lee Noble collected a loose ball out wide and drove down the wing towards the by-line before executing a lofted cross towards the back post where Pavey rose above his man to head beyond Southwood.
Hayes then had a glorious opportunity to double his side’s advantage. A long free kick was headed down by Pavey into the path of Hayes who couldn’t find a way past Southwood.
Despite controlling the game for most of the half, a sloppy clearance in first half stoppage enabled Smith to draw the home side level.
Captain Anthony Straker delivered a poor cross that was only cleared into the path of Watkins who set the ball for Smith and the on-loan Swindon midfielder made no mistake in dispatching the ball into the bottom corner.
More sloppy defending almost proved to be the Darts downfall. A long free kick from Bath was met by an unmarked Marvin Morgan but with the goal at his mercy the striker mercifully headed wide.
Pavey soon had the ball in the net but he would have to wait for goal number 12 as the referee had already adjudged there to have been a foul on the keeper as he jumped for the ball.
Bath had really started to step up their attempts to push in front and things only got harder for the away side when Pugh was shown a straight red card for recklessly diving in on Dan Ball.
Pavey was also fortunate not to have been given his marching orders as well as pushing and shoving broke out between him and the rest of Baths back line.
Pavey made full use of the referee’s leniency minutes later when he seized upon a terrible back-pass from Case and having just scuffled with the defender, the inform striker added insult to injury by rounding Southwood and slotting home his twelfth of the season to compound the home side’s misery.
The Darts held on to secure an invaluable three points.
Bath: Southwood, Rigg, Straker (c), Smith, Case, Ball, Watkins, Murphy, Morgan, Artus, Jarvis.
Bath subs: Edwards, Lucas, Mohammed, Ollis, Mellor
Dartford: Ibrahim, Harris, Wood, Brown, Vint, Noble, Hayes, Bradbrook (c), Pavey, Pugh, Della-Verde
Dartford subs: Murphy, Mfula, Eweka, Fulton, Ofori-Acheampong
|October 24, 2017||7:45 pm||National League South||2017/18||90'|
|Bath BA2 1DZ, UK|