One last push for the Darts
Dartford welcomed Bath City to Princes Park on Saturday and whilst both teams are chasing promotion to the Vanarama National League, the Darts will be eager to keep the 3-point gap over Havant and Waterlooville at the summit of the National League south.
The hosts have the best home record in the league this campaign and started well without troubling the visitors goal.
Darts midfielder Alex Brown eventually did so as he flashed an effort from the edge of the box harmlessly wide following a Lee Noble free-kick on the ten-minute mark.
A team full of confidence
Darts manager Tony Burman eluded to the “feel-good factor” in the build-up to the game following a 1-0 mid-week win away to East Thurrock. The belief was there to see as Alfie Pavey showed heis more than just a goal scorer as he produced a great sliding tackle to dispossess Anthony Straker down the right.
The ball broke for Andy Pugh who put in an inviting ball across the six-yard box but the outstretched Danny Mills couldn’t quite make the contact required.
The home side were comfortable in possession and began to go through the gears as the half progressed; on 32 minutes more good play by the Brown-Pugh partnership down the right resulted in a blocked shot by the later eventually falling to Pavey.
Amid a scramble in the box the striker appeared to be hacked down by Bath ‘keeper Luke Southwood but referee Jack Packman waved play on.
Settling the nerves
Pavey was involved in the hosts breaking the deadlock as his cross from the right was met by loanee Mills, whose headed finish was his third in a week for the hosts.
The visitors had a golden opportunity to get back on level terms just before half-time as a short corner caught the Darts defence napping. The ball eventually fell to Jack Batten who had workedsome space in the box but he blazed over from 12 yards out.
Half-time: Dartford 1-0 Bath City
The first chance of the second-half fell to visitors and Batten via a corner once more. He produced a clever flick following a near post run with his effort just curling over Schotterl’s bar.
On 56 minutes the Darts then had a chance of their own from a corner as Noble’s deep ball found Vint at the far post. His fierce cross caught Pavey by surprise and the Darts talisman couldn’tmanage to direct the ball goal-wards.
In the Darts’ 4-3-3 formation both Mills and Pugh were offering defensive support to the full-backs but Mills’ unfamiliarity in defensive quarters almost cost his team. Miles Welch-Hayes dispossessed the forward in his own half and fizzed in a low cross that both Antoine Semenyo and James Ollis failed to convert.
On 63 minutes Romans ‘keeper Southwood had a rush of blood as a Mills shot drifted wide and he was left in a foot race with Noble as the ball rolled towards the left corner flag.
The Darts midfielder managed to round the ‘keeper but his cross failed to pick out a man in black and white with the goal at their mercy.
Jerry Gill’s men had managed to keep ex-MIllwall forward Pavey relatively quiet until a poor clearance by captain Anthony Straker landed at the feet of Brown on the box. His shot was casually diverted by Pavey into the centre of the goal to double the hosts’ lead.
City substitute Ollis nearly responded with a consolation for the visitors but his curled effort from the left side of the box went just wide of Schotterl’s left post.
Southwold came off his line in a much more effective manner on 87 minutes as he pulled off a great save with his legs after Darts sub Duane Ofori-Acheampong was sent through on goal by Hayes.
Full-time: Dartford 2-0 Bath City
Defeat leaves City’s faint hopes of promotion all but over but the Darts maintained their run of 4 consecutive clean sheets. With Havant winning by the same margin at Chelmsford, the league tablelooks more or less the same heading into the final week of the season.
It’s set to be a nervy week for both sides with the Darts having arguably the more favourable remaining fixture with an away trip to already relegated Bognor Regis Town. It’s going to go down to the wire for the National League south crown.
Dartford: Schotterl; Collier, Vint, Bonner, Onyemah; Brown, Noble, Bradbrook ©; Pugh, Pavey, Mills.
Bath City: Southwood; Welch-Hayes, Straker ©, Richards, Batten; Ball, Edwards, Smith; Watkins, Semenyo, Compton.
MoM: Lee Noble
Written by Henry Clark (@HenryWAClark)
|April 21, 2018||3:00 pm||National League South||2017/18||90'|