Dartford made the long journey to Twerton Park on a cold Saturday afternoon, as they faced Bath
City in the Vanarama National League South.
With the previous two outings resulting with full-backs, Jordan Gibbons and Liam Gordon, being
unavailable, it was a relief to see them both named in Steve King’s starting eleven. However, the
most pleasing sight was the return of midfielder Sam Blackman, who was named on the bench after a lengthy period out injured since signing for the club.
Despite those returnees, and taking nothing away from those who started, it was quite evident that
the team was missing influential midfield duo Luke Allen and Billy Crook, as well as other players
who are out injured. And, despite starting brightly, Dartford were soon put under pressure by a
confident Bath City side, as they found too much free space across the pitch and scored three goals during a difficult first half for the Darts.
It was the left flank which started brightly for Dartford, as Gordon and Marsh-Brown combined well
in the opening five minutes to carve open an opportunity. Unfortunately, the hosts had enough
cover to stop Gordon in his tracks, after he’d managed to get into a great position. However, four
minutes later saw Bath City open up the visitors’ defence and Tom Smith found himself one-on-one
with Mark Smith and, subsequently, guided the ball beyond the goalkeeper.
Dartford tried to respond immediately and were awarded a couple of corners after the Bath City
defence dealt with the onslaught. Josh Hill had a great opportunity to level the score when he got on the end of a corner and sent a powerful header towards goal. Unfortunately, goalkeeper Ryan Clarke made a terrific save, tipping the ball over the bar and to safety.
After a relatively quiet period from both sides, it was Dartford who created another opportunity
when Luke Wanadio found space. But, instead of seeking the pass, he fired an over-ambitious effort
from distance, which flew wide of the post. Ironically, two minutes later, the hosts broke free in
attack, leaving Tom Bonner and Co all at sea, and Andy Watkins fired into the top corner to double
As the clock reached the 34th minute, the hosts put the game out of reach, as Watkins took
advantage of more poor defending from Dartford to score his second and City’s third.
With a mountain to climb, Dartford started the second half with a double change in personnel. Ryan
Hayes and Andy Pugh were introduced in place of Laurent Mendy and Ronnie Vint, as Steve King
looked to salvage something after such a disastrous first forty-five. The Darts started positively and
were almost rewarded in the 47th minute, when Elliot Romain forced Clarke into a good save from
Six minutes into the second half saw the Dartford boss make his final throw of the dice, as Darren
McQueen came on to replace Luke Wanadio. However, the change had little effect, as Bath City
were too regimented in defence. When the visitors were given an opening, by way of referee Marc
Whaley awarding them a penalty, Romain smashed it over the bar!
What should have been the foundation in which to launch a comeback and enable Dartford to assert their authority on proceedings, only served to confound a miserable afternoon and lack of quality in the final third. As a result, Dartford’s unbeaten run on their travels came to an abrupt end at the hands of a strong Bath City side.
BATH CITY: Clarke ©, Raynes, Smith, Bowry, Artus, Mann, Watkins, Chilvers, Brunt, Ball, Hartridge.
SUBSTITUTES: Stearn, Wiles-Richards, Richards, Kensdale, Britton.
DARTFORD: Smith, Gibbons, Gordon, Vint, Hill, Bonner ©, Wanadio, Mendy, Brodie, Romain,
SUBSTITUTES: McQueen, Alhaji, Pugh, Hayes, Blackman.