Local borough rivals, Bromley, came to town on a hot Tuesday [23rd of July] evening, as the Darts’
home run of pre-season fixtures came to a conclusion.
While recent friendly results against Football League opposition haven’t been in the Darts’ favour,
performances have been relatively consistent, as the team gets stronger after each game. On the
other hand, the visitors have had a very good pre-season, and arrived at Princes Park on a 5-game
unbeaten run. This run included an excellent 1-0 win over a Crystal Palace XI side at Hayes Lane.
With title aspirations themselves, the National League side have also been busy in the transfer
market, with eight new players arriving during the summer. The Ravens’ transfer activity includes
incoming players such as goalkeeper Mark Cousins [ex-Barnet], striker Reece Hackett-Fairchild
[ex-Charlton U23], and midfielder Billy Bingham [ex-Gillingham].
With such signings, together with their impressive run of form, Bromley would prove to be another
strong opponent for Adam and Jamie’s team. As was the case against Leyton Orient, a strong lineup
was announced by the Darts, which included Ben Greenhalgh in the starting eleven. Once again, two
trialists were listed on the host’s bench. The Ravens had four trialists listed, one of which was in their
Despite The Ravens’ excellent run of form, this game saw another very impressive display from
Dartford, as they came from behind to seal an excellent 3-1 victory. A tight first half saw both teams
passing the ball well and creating opportunities, but it was Bromley who struck first in the 20th
minute. The goal came from a set-piece, as the Darts failed to deal with a corner, leaving Jack
Holland to lash the ball home from close range.
Due to the excessive heat, referee Dan Proctor stopped play after 28 minutes to ensure that the
players received a drinks break. This break appeared to provide the home side with renewed energy,
as they began to exploit the space more and attack Mark Cousins’ goal. With some nice touches,
especially from the ever-threatening Darren McQueen, the Bromley defence was under pressure
throughout, and Sam Blackman had a couple of shots at goal.
The visitors had their fair share of chances too, but Darts’ keeper Mark Smith was a tower of
strength, as he kept the score at 0-1. You could see the confidence in the defence growing, as
Dartford’s No. 1 took command of his penalty area. Together with Ronnie Vint and Co, the host’s
backline showed signs of calmness, as they dealt with the Bromley attack. As the 38th minute
arrived, the home side got themselves back on level terms when Jordan Wynter’s towering header
from a corner flew past Cousins.
The first half ended a few minutes early, after a poor challenge on Sam Blackman left the Darts’
midfielder needing treatment before being stretchered off. He was replaced by Cameron Brodie, and
the two trialists also came on for Josh Hill and Luke Allen.
The second half saw 432 fans treated to end-to-end, exciting football. But, it was the home side who
took the game by the scruff of its neck as they played some fantastic football. After a period of equal
opportunities, Brodie stunned the away side with an absolute beauty of a strike. The move started
with superb work by Trialist #20, as he made a darting run with the ball into the visitors’ half. His
pass to the overlapping Jay Bacon opened up space for him to pick out Brodie with a peach of a pass.
Brodie connected with the ball perfectly and unleashed a piledriver, which rocketed into the top
corner, turning the game on its head, and earning the midfielder the man-of-the-match.
After a string of substitutions, the home side put the game beyond reach in the 74th minute. More
wonderful passing from Dartford lead to the ball ending up at Jay Bacon’s feet, who’s cross into the
box found Andy Pugh free to stab it home. The Darts were on fire and should have added to the
scoreline. Trialist #20 was a constant threat since he was introduced. In a matter of minutes, he
came agonisingly close to reaching a superb Ryan Hayes cross, and moments later, his own excellent
cross failed to reach a Dartford player in the box.
At the other end, Bromley created chances as well, but the Darts’ defence stood firm. Despite
conceding from a corner in the first half, the home defence looked strong against National League
opposition, with Trialist #14 also looking comfortable and controlled since coming on. But the
evening belonged to Brodie and his wonder strike, and everyone at Dartford will be hoping for a
speedy recovery for the injured Blackman.