Dartford’s final game of January saw them host a stubborn Dulwich Hamlet side at Princes Park on
an overcast afternoon.
Both sides had been on impressive, unbeaten form since the turn of the new year, but both suffered
defeats in their previous games, thus ending those runs. However, the Darts are unbeaten in three at Princes Park, scoring ten with no reply. It’s fair to say that Steve King and his players intended for that run to continue, and inflict defeat on the visitors. And that’s exactly what happened, as a single first half Darren McQueen goal ensured that the host’s winning home form stretched to four
An electric start saw both sides create goal-scoring opportunities in the opening few minutes. Firstly, an excellent ball by Billy Crook found Josh Hill in the area, who saw his header cleared off the line in the third minute. Two minutes later saw Dulwich attacking and Nyren Clunis forcing Alhaji Sesay into a solid save.
Such a breathtaking start continued as both sides attacked with end-to-end football, and the Darts in particular looked confident as they played some fantastic football. They should have taken the lead in the eleventh minute, when Tyrique Hyde collected the ball on the edge of the box, passed to the sprinting Sanchez Ming, who then clipped the ball into the box from the right. The ball found Hyde, who’s header was cleared over the bar. Five minutes later saw Charlie Grainger pull off a magnificent save to keep out Elliott Romain’s powerful header, after excellent work by Luke Wanadio.
At the other end, Dulwich broke through after a long ball over the top on 21 minutes. With the
attacker getting clear and defenders scrambling back, across came the rushing Craig Braham-Barrett to make a superbly timed sliding tackle and clear the danger. The visitors then found themselves a goal behind two minutes later, after Darren McQueen ran onto a terrific through-ball from Romain and tucked it beyond Grainger. The goal was the in-form striker’s fourteenth of the season, and a well-deserved one at that.
With Dulwich beginning to get frustrated, tempers boiled over when David Ijaha made an extremely
late and crunching tackle on Braham-Barrett. With 1,500 supporters calling for a red card, referee
Andrew Humphries produced a yellow to the dismay of the Dartford management and fans.
Needless to say, both the referee and Ijaha received many boos for sometime afterwards!
As play resumed, the game turned rather scrappy and the hosts were the only team able to create
any more meaningful chances before the break. First Hyde (36) received a brilliant ball from the
excellent Braham-Barrett, only to fire wide of Grainger’s post. Then with two minutes remaining,
Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong sent in a fantastic ball towards Luke Wanadio, who also fired just wide.
Not happy with the way the first 45 went, Dulwich decided to swap Dylan Kearney with Lionel
Ainsworth as the second half got under way. But Dartford should’ve punished them three minutes in
after terrific play between McQueen, Romain and Hyde. The latter was played through and drove
relentlessly towards goal, only to see his effort arch wide of the post.
Another effort for the hosts saw Romain break free into the Dulwich box and force Grainger into a
save that kept his team in it in the 53rd minute. At this point, the Darts were threatening to
overwhelm the visitors, before proceedings began to get a little frustrating.
Another good ball forward, this time from Josh Hill, resulted in McQueen on the verge of breaking
free, only to be pulled back by Ben Chapman in the 59th minute. Three minutes later Aaron Barnes
made a late lunge at Wanadio, prompting Andrew Humphries to show the Dulwich defender a
yellow card. Then Braham-Barrett went into the referee’s book after he pulled back his opponent,
before Jesse Debrah returned the favour to Braham-Barrett’s teammate, by shoving Wanadio over in the 64th minute!
With twenty minutes remaining, Princes Park saw another Dulwich substitution (Danny Mills on for
Shamir Mullings), followed by another missed opportunity for Dartford, as Berkeley-Agyepong fired
wide (72). Then Wanadio left the field in the 73rd minute, to be replaced by Ky Marsh-Brown, which
was followed by Liam Nash replacing McQueen (75).
Dulwich increased the tempo a notch, as they tried to carve open the equaliser in the last five
minutes or so. Connor Hunte came on for Clunis, to little effect, while the returning Lee Noble came
on for the hard working Billy Crook in stoppage time, as the Darts closed up ranks, stood firm, and
got the result.
This wasn’t the prettiest of games, especially the second half, but it was another three points and
clean sheet at Princes Park. The main point this afternoon was that the Dartford players picked
themselves up and responded positively to last weekend’s defeat at Slough, thus keeping Dartford’s
playoff hopes alive.
DARTFORD: Sesay, Ming, Braham-Barrett, Crook, Hill, Bonner ©, Hyde, Berkeley-Agyepong, Romain,
SUBSTITUTES: Nash, Arnold, Marsh-Brown, Vint, Noble.
DULWICH HAMLET: Grainger, Chapman, Barnes, Ijaha ©, Debrah, Smith, Clunis, Vose, Mullings,
SUBSTITUTES: Connors, Ainsworth, McCoy, Mills, Hunte.