Dartford entertained an in-form Slough Town on an overcast Saturday afternoon at Princes Park.
With two successive wins and clean sheets on the road, the Darts intended on building on that run as well as an unbeaten run against the visitors. However, Slough had other ideas, as they came from 2-0 down to punish Dartford with a second defeat in a row at Princes Park.
With injuries and suspensions, interim manager Tony Burman had to shuffle the squad a little for this fixture.
Mark Smith remained in goal, taking his place behind a defensive line consisting of RonnieVint, Josh Hill, Alex Flisher and Rob Howard. The midfield included Cameron Brodie, Ben Greenhalgh,
Ryan Hayes and Luke Wanadio, while Charlie Sheringham and Darren McQueen led the attack.
The substitutes bench saw the return of captain Tom Bonner, who was accompanied by Alfie Evans,Adam Cunnington, Sam Oduado and Norman Wabo.
Dartford started brightly and moved the ball impressively across the pitch, intending to get it out
wide to Wanadio and Hayes respectively. In the ninth minute, the latter sent in a peach of a ball
towards Sheringham, but the visitors’ defence was able to clear the danger.
The hosts were strong in the opening twenty minutes, forcing Slough into their own half as they tried to carve out an opening. The Rebels were happy to soak up the pressure and try to take advantage with the counter-attack, but they came across an inspired Brodie during the opening exchanges. The young midfielder looked calm and collected, as he positioned himself well and showed good ball control.
Despite Dartford’s early pressure, it was the visitors who had the first meaningful opportunity when
Matt Lench struck the bar after shooting from outside the box in the 21st minute. Thirteen minutes
later saw Dartford take the lead after Sheringham and McQueen’s good work had forced a corner.
The corner was whipped in and Sheringham stooped low to connect with a good header, sending it
towards Jack Turner’s goal. McQueen was in the right place to force it over the line, giving the hosts a deserved lead.
A minute later saw Dartford double their lead after a moment of madness from goalkeeper Turner.
The ball was sent out towards Wanadio and Turner rushed towards it, taking out the Dartford
number ten in the process, earning himself a yellow card from referee Mark Howes. The resulting
free kick was sent into the danger area and Hill climbed high to head it in off the post.
Shortly afterwards, Slough were allowed too much space and Dan Roberts managed to halve the
deficit to 2-1. With both teams trying to score, the 1,085 supporters were treated to an entertaining
game of football, and Dartford should have gone in at half-time 3-1 up. McQueen got himself into a
good position, but his effort went just wide and high of the Slough goal.
The Rebels started the second half stronger and forced Smith into a brilliant save after George Wells tried his luck from distance. A few seconds later Warren Harris saw his header cleared off the line by Brodie. At the other end, Dartford won a corner after a good counter-attack, but Hill’s header struck the visitor’s crossbar!
With the game in the balance and Slough looking extremely threatening, Tony introduced
Cunnington in place of McQueen, as he tried to freshen things up and add another dimension to the Darts’ attack. However, it was the visitors who scored the next goal. Dartford lost the ball in the
middle and Slough ploughed forward, eventually setting up Lench to calmly put the ball past Smith
for the equaliser in the 63rd minute.
With both sides looking a little ragged, yet Slough looking more dangerous, Dartford made another
substitution with Wabo replacing Hayes as we reached the 72nd minute. Then with eleven minutes
remaining Slough took advantage of a mix-up in the Dartford defence and turned the game on its
head. Max Worsford crossed into the Dartford box and Ben Harris, who’d just come on for Roberts,
headed the ball past Smith to give the visitors a 3-2 lead. Moments before the goal, Bonner had
come on for Flisher, in what was the Darts’ final substitution.
Dartford tried desperately to level the score again, but their efforts were in vain as Slough did
everything they could to waste time and frustrate the hosts. Wabo tried his best to get forward in
the closing minutes, but the striker just wasn’t allowed the time on the ball. When he did get into a
shooting position, the referee rather harshly awarded a free kick in favour of the visitors.
And so another frustrating game at Princes Park came to its conclusion, as Dartford fell to a second
consecutive defeat in front of the home faithful. The excellent Luke Wanadio came away with the
Man of The Match award, but that was of little consolation after this defeat left the Darts just two
points clear of the relegation zone.