Dartford hosted league leaders Wealdstone on a cold and blustery afternoon at Princes Park.
With both sides in good form recently, the potential was there for the 1,403 supporters to be
treated to an excellent afternoon of football. However, the opposite occurred, as both sides
cancelled each other out in a guarded, yet feisty game which ended in a goalless stalemate.
Steve King named a strong starting eleven once again, yet was forced into making a couple of
alterations due to Nick Arnold and Jack Jebb being ineligible for the game. However, the most
welcome sight was the return of goalkeeper Mark Smith, who had been missed due to injury. And it
was the Dartford number one who actually created the first meaningful opportunity when his long
kick over the top found Elliott Romain. The striker used his strength, controlled the ball well, before
seeing his shot deflected away from Aston Oxborough’s goal in the third minute.
With both sides attempting to pass the ball and maintain possession, the game opened somewhat to allow for end-to-end football, yet with clear-cut opportunities at a minimum because of tight
defences. This didn’t stop Darren McQueen from trying his best, however, as he controlled the ball
well in the Wealdstone box before firing towards goal. Unfortunately, his 14th minute effort flew
wide of the post.
At the other end, Tom Bonner and Josh Hill were called into action in the 19th minute, as they cut
out a dangerous cross before being awarded a free kick from referee Tom Bishop. Smith was also
called into action four minutes later, as he punched the ball clear after a spell of Wealdstone
With nothing to separate either side, this was a rather frustrating first forty-five in terms of attacking
opportunities, but the passion was certainly evident, making for an even, although unpredictable
contest. However, two excellent opportunities could have resulted in the teams ending the half at
1-1 instead of 0-0.
First to open up a defence was the hosts in the 36th minute, after terrific link-up play between Elliott
Romain, Tyrique Hyde and Sanchez Ming opened up the Wealdstone defence. Unfortunately, the
final ball from Ming flashed across the box with nobody able to get on the end of it. Two minutes
later saw the visitors be presented with an even better opportunity when Ashley Charles beat Smith
to the ball, only for his effort to rebound off the top of the crossbar.
Conditions deteriorated at the beginning of the second half, as the cold wind increased and the rain
fell. This didn’t deter the Darts, though, as they launched a good attack along the left flank, only for
the move to falter after Romain had held up the ball so well. A few minutes later saw Amrit
Bansal-McNulty pull his man back and be shown a yellow card from Mr Bishop, as tempers began to intensify.
A good move in the 55th minute saw the hosts gain a corner, only for Bonner to head it wide of
Oxborough’s post. Four minutes after that saw Wealdstone accomplish a great attacking move as the weather improved. Michael Phillips collected the ball before firing a long-range strike towards goal, which Smith dived down low to make a fine save.
With the game becoming more open, Dartford made their first change in personnel, as Billy Crook
replaced Noor Husin on 65 minutes. This was followed by Bonner losing his man and his composure
a couple of minutes later. Frustrated by being beaten, the Dartford Captain proceeded to lunge at his opponent from behind, earning himself a yellow card and Wealdstone a free kick in a dangerous
position. Thankfully, nothing came of the free-kick and the game became a bit more open, yet sloppy as well.
The 72nd minute saw Bansal-McNulty replaced by Luke Wanadio, and then Mr Bishop awarded the
visitors a penalty three minutes later. Up stepped Dennon Lewis, but his effort struck the outside of
Smith’s post and flew to safety. Three minutes following that saw Dartford attack with gusto, causing problems for the Stones’ defence. During the move, Crook was floored in the box, only for the referee to show him a yellow card for supposedly diving!
With eight minutes remaining, McQueen, who would be awarded with a deserved Man of The Match afterwards, received the ball in a dangerous position only to be fouled. The resulting free-kick looped into the danger area, only for Hill to send it straight at a relieved Oxborough. Wealdstone attacked immediately themselves, thus forcing another good save from Smith.
At this point, both teams were determined to get the win, and there were good opportunities for
both to score. First Dartford attacked on the right with Wanadio. His cross into the box appeared to
hit a Wealdstone hand, but the referee disagreed. Then Wealdstone caught the Darts unawares, as
Michael Efete burst forward and squared the ball to Moses Emmanuel. Free in the box, the latter
slipped and scuffed his shot to the relief of the Dartford faithful.
The goal never materialised, as two strong teams cancelled each other out and were determined to
not suffer defeat in this game. The Dartford players can be proud of putting in a disciplined
performance against the league leaders, as they earned a valuable and hard-fought point in difficult
DARTFORD: Smith, Ming, Braham-Barrett, Bansal-McNulty, Hill, Bonner ©, Husin, Hyde, Romain,
SUBSTITUTES: Nash, Crook, Wanadio, Vint, McGregor.
WEALDSTONE: Oxborough, Efete, Mendy, Clifford, Stevens ©, Okinio, Phillips, Charles, Emmanuel,
SUBSTITUTES: Lafayette, Everett, Sheppard, Watt, McCoy.