DARTFORD 1 GILLINGHAM 2
Continuing their pre-season friendly fixtures, Dartford hosted League One outfit Gillingham FC on an
extremely hot, sunny summer’s evening on Tuesday 16th of July.
The Darts have been on fine form, picking up two away victories and a hard-fought draw in their
previous showing at Princes Park. However, League One outfit Gillingham will most certainly prove
to be an extremely tough opponent. Steve Evans’ Gills have been on excellent form themselves,
picking up two away wins and scoring a whopping 13 goals during their pre-season adventures. Not
that such statistics will bother Dartford though, as the team continues to grow together as a unit.
Before the “proper” football begins in August, managers Adam and Jamie have purposely arranged a
challenging selection of friendly fixtures this time around in order to provide stern tests for the
players. The management duo continue their hard work, both on and off the pitch, as they assemble
a squad of players that will be able to push the club forward with the intention of challenging for
promotion this season.
The evening saw yet another strong team selection from Adam and Jamie, as they continued to
ensure that all players got an opportunity to improve their fitness levels. The team selection included
two trialists in the starting eleven and a further two on the bench. The visitors also had a trialist in
their starting eleven, but what really caught the eye was the new additions to their squad. Players
such as Matty Willock [Man Utd U23] and Nathan Thomas [Sheffield Utd] are just two of nine new
signings for The Gills, and sit on the away bench. Meanwhile, ex-Tottenham U23 player Connor
Ogilvie, who arrived on a free transfer, got a place in their starting eleven.
The game was played out in front of 815 fans and the Darts started the first half with their backs to
the low sun. The players made a good account of themselves against League One opposition. The
visitors had the better of the opening exchanges, but it was the hosts who were awarded the first
corner. Unfortunately, it came to nothing and three minutes later Mark Smith pulled off a good save
to keep The Gills out. Sadly, the resulting corner arrived at the edge of the box and Elliot List struck
the ball perfectly to give the visitors the lead. A minute later Dartford were forced into a
substitution, as Alex Flisher picked up an injury and was replaced by Ben Greenhalgh.
The host’s confidence began to grow as they ventured forward more often, using their wingers to
good effect. Trialist #20 had an impressive first half, testing Jack Bonham in The Gills’ goal twice in
quick succession. His first attempt coming from a tight angle which didn’t trouble the keeper. His
second coming after a great tackle by midfielder Josh Hill, who then sent the ball into the path of
Ryan Hayes. Hayes then sent a lovely ball into the path of Trialist #20, who’s shot was saved strongly
A few more good attacking moves were made by Dartford as they search for the equaliser. Just
before the half hour, Luke Wanadio unleashed a drive from 18 yards, which Bonham saved easily. As
the 33rd minute arrived, the host’s pressure paid off when a long ball was met by a delightful little
flick from Greenhalgh. Trialist #20 controlled the ball before firing it into the far corner, bringing the
Darts back on level terms… and deservedly so.
As the 35th minute arrived, Dartford make another substitution with Luke Allen being replaced by
Cameron Broadie. A minute later Gillingham got their noses back in front amidst confusion in the
box, as Mark Byrne managed to get on the end of Max Ehmer’s ball to make it 2-1. Luke Wanadio
tried to even the score five minutes later, but once again Bonham was equal to it.
The second half saw more substitutions from the Darts, as Hayes, Hill, and Wanadio were replaced
by Ronnie Vint, Darren McQueen, and Trialist #9. The visitors upped the tempo during this half and
were intent on getting that 3rd goal. The Darts were put under tremendous pressure as wave upon
wave of red shirts attacked the box. In the 52nd minute Tom Bonner’s defence was seriously tested,
as another Gillingham shot was blocked and diverted for a corner. That corner flew into the box and
the ball reached Regan Charles-Cook, who unleashed a fierce strike which struck the upright.
There was some respite for Dartford as the game reached the 63rd minute. The Darts had a neat
spell of possession and forced a corner, which put the visitors under pressure. Unfortunately, the
corner was met by a header that went harmlessly over the bar. However, the chances for the hosts
were few and far between during the second half, as they continued to be put under pressure from a
strong Gillingham side. The score remained 2-1, but the Darts played some good football and dug
their heels in when required. Overall, the League One side were too strong on the night, but the
game was a good test for the team and the players can hold their heads high after another strong